According to the State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture, New Jersey is the tenth largest wine producing state in the U.S., with 1.56 million gallons of wine produced annually.
New Jersey is home to about 50 wineries, and the state has three designated American Viticulture Areas (AVAs): Warren Hills AVA, Central Delaware Valley AVA, and the Outer Coastal Plain AVA.
Because of the great agricultural conditions New Jersey enjoys, local wineries have the ability to successfully grow a wide range of grape varieties. In fact, more than 40 types of grapes grow in the area. In the north, Pinot noir and Riesling are popular and in the south, Italian varieties like Sangiovese and Barbera are being farmed.
New Jersey has grown into a wine region recognized nationally and internationally. Following are four award-winning wineries located in three very different regions of the Garden State that support the Jersey Fresh approach.
North Jersey: Villa Milagro Vineyards
Sometimes referred to as the House of Miracles, Villa Milagro Vineyards, located along the Delaware River, offers breathtaking views. Proprietors Steve and Audrey Gambino grow their ten varieties of grapes only using treatments that are approved for organic use. Known for their sustainable practices, the Gambinos’ property also serves as a sanctuary to native plants, birds, and other wildlife.
“Wines have been made for centuries without massive chemical inputs,” Audrey Gambino says. “The factory agriculture model that says pour a bunch of chemicals on it, is not necessary in a vineyard. With lots of hand labor and daily attention, vines can produce lovely fruit with minimal inputs. That is our model.”
Throughout the year, the picturesque property features several events and can also host events ranging from weddings, birthday/anniversary parties and corporate functions.
Villa Milagro Vineyards is open on weekends for tastings and sales from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is also open daily for sales from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment.
Central Jersey: Hopewell Valley Vineyards and Tomasello Winery
Hopewell Valley Vineyards boasts that it is “upholding the tradition and aesthetic of old world European wines while always innovating for a new world twist.”
Owners Sergio and Violetta Neri are dedicated to producing handcrafted, award-winning artisan wines through three generations of Tuscan winemaking experience. Hopewell Valley Vineyards, which the Neris own, is a member of New Jersey farms that are permanently preserved. The Neri family believes that by conserving New Jersey farmland, residents are ensured green, open spaces, and agricultural vitality. Their mission is “to provide a beautiful and relaxing environment to taste world class wines, enjoy friends and create lasting memories to cherish for a lifetime.”
Hopewell Valley Vineyards is planted with vinefera that thrives on New Jersey’s terroir and its own microclimate. The Neri family has brought some Italian varieties, such as Barbera, to New Jersey, something not previously done, or at least not done successfully.
Wine tastings are available daily from 12 p.m to 5 p.m.
Tomasello Winery is one of the Garden State’s largest grape growers. The popular winery has been with the Tomasello family for three generations and will soon become a fourth-generation winery when the sons of brothers Jack and Charlie join them in running the family business.
The vineyards consist of 68 acres spread across Atlantic and Camden counties. Tomasello Winery produces over 75% of its wines from its own grapes and purchases the rest from nearby growers. A blueberry wine is also produced by Tomasello Winery from fruits grown in Hammonton.
A winemaker’s life is not always rosy as Jack Tomasello explains. “The last two years, we have experienced the bad side of climate change by having extreme cold which has caused a lot of our vines to die,” he says. “This happened to only a few varieties, however, and we are taking measures to deal with this going forward.”
While Tomasello Winery offers several tasting rooms throughout New Jersey, its flagship tasting room in Hammonton is newly remodeled and art-filled, offering a relaxing and intimate tasting experience.
Tasting Room Hours for the Tomasello Winery in Hammonton:
Monday through Friday: 9 .a.m to 6 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Southern Coastal Jersey: Cape May Winery & Vineyard
Cape May Winery got its start in 2002 when owner Toby Craig bought a small winery and vineyard. In 2003, Craig hired a talented winemaker, Darren Hesington, and since then the winery has come to produce some of the most distinguished wines in South Jersey. Cape May Winery features 70 acres of land over four vineyards, where it produces more than 16 varieties of grapes.
With expanded crops, a more spacious winery building, and increased wine production, Cape May Winery has become one of the state’s top wineries and visitor destinations. Craig and Hesington produce 20 styles of wine, and their aim is to create a wine for each person’s palate.
Tastings are available every week day from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays until 6 p.m.
Check out New Jersey Wine Growers Association for a complete list of NJ wineries. Please share this post using #JerseyFreshFriday and help keep the “Garden” in Garden State.