RELEASE: NJ winery tasting rooms to greet visitors with barrel tastings, wine releases, tours, and more.
On July 18 and 19, New Jersey wine enthusiasts will get a chance to sample future award-winning vintages direct from the barrels when the Garden State Wine Growers Association’s Barrel Trail and Wine Tasting Weekend is held at participating wineries across the state. Besides barrel tastings, trail travelers can expect special wine releases, discounts, food pairings, vineyard walks, winery tours, and entertainment. The Trail gives visitors to NJ Wine Country a little extra incentive to taste the latest vintages from the local winemakers, which continue to rise to a new level of quality and recognition. As the local wine industry continues to mature and grow, the crowded mantle of trophies and medals speaks for itself: NJ wines are excellent!
The right soil conditions, grape varieties, and weather each play a role in making good wine. A winemaker’s delicate touch steers the fruit towards his vision of what the wine should become. Equally important to these however, are the choices made regarding how the wine is aged. Oak barrels, which come from forests in North America and France typically, impart secondary flavors into the wine, as well as structure and body. The age of the barrel, the amount of time the wine spends in it, and the source of origin of the wood have dramatic effects on the final bottling.
“Barrel Trail Weekend is the best chance for NJ wine lovers to get firsthand experience with winemakers, and learn about how the wine develops and evolves from when the grapes are harvested to when the wine is released,” says John Cifelli, the association’s executive director. “The weekend is an educational and informative, but most of all it’s a lot of fun!”
Guests can hone their winemaker tasting skills at Sharrott Winery in Hammonton, where winemaker Larry Sharrott, Jr. will show visitors how the winemaker assesses a vintage before bottling. Cedarvale Winery in Swedesboro will also feature wines not yet released, as will Bellview Winery in Landisville. Visitors to Heritage Vineyards in Mullica Hill can expect to try two wines from the barrel, and the winery will debut its Sémillon, an estate-grown wine from the classic white grape of Bordeaux. Bellview is releasing four new wines during Barrel Trail Weekend, including its latest vintages of Grüner Veltliner and Vidal Blanc.
As the grapevines creep along the trellising throughout NJ wine country, flowers have given way to healthy fruit, and the 2015 vintage grape crop is setting on the vine. Hawk Haven Vineyard in Cape May will hold a vineyard walk on Saturday at 1 p.m., while Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes will give a sneak peek into the winemaking process during a winery tour at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. Old York Cellars, also in Ringoes, will give vineyard walks and winery tours on the hour beginning at 1 p.m. both days. Guests here can enjoy Old York’s wines alongside complimentary cheeses from Cabot Creamery after burning calories on the walk!
Chestnut Run Farm, a producer of boutique fruit wines, will offer complimentary tastings of their lineup of exotic apple and pear wines. Chestnut Run is only open for tastings on special Trail Weekends, so trail travelers would be wise to visit them in Pilesgrove and try their newly released Shiro Plum or Dry Reserve Fuji Apple bottlings.
No matter where in New Jersey you live, there is a winery in your neck of the woods! For the full list of participating wineries, costs to attend, and details of the special offerings at each location, click here. The GSWGA has a full calendar of special opportunities to help you plan your visits to the rapidly increasing number of wineries across the state.