SEPTEMBER 2018, New Jersey—The Winemakers Co-Op, an organization of New Jersey wineries promoting fine vinifera wines from New Jersey-grown grapes has added a fifth member to its ranks: Hawk Haven Vineyard of Rio Grande in Cape May County. Hawk Haven is the first and only winery to join The Winemakers Co-Op since the organization was founded in Spring of 2015. Hawk Haven is led by husband-wife team Todd and Kenna Wuerker. Mr. Wuerker is also the winemaker at the winery, which showcases a wide array of European grape varieties including Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay, Tempranillo, and Albarino.
The decision to expand was difficult and made after much deliberation. “It was probably a year or so before we agreed to expand, and then it took more time to identify our new Co-Op partner,” said John Cifelli, the organization’s director. “We’re very close knit, so we needed everyone to be sure it was the right move, and that the new addition was the perfect fit.”
Mr. Wuerker said Hawk Haven is incredibly excited to be a part of the Winemakers Co-Op. “The ideals and goals of the organization align exactly with our own here. To showcase what New Jersey can do with high-quality, dry, viniferawine is our number one priority. Even though we are a tight knit group of friends, we all have that competitive edge to make the best possible wine. The end result, a rising tide floats all boats,” said Wuerker.
The timing of the expansion announcement coincides with another milestone for the Co-Op wineries, as the most recent edition of The Wine Advocate was published over Labor Day Weekend. In the issue, United States east coast critic Mark Squires rated each of the 30 wines submitted by the Co-Op wineries 85 to 89 points, or “above average to very good,” according to the Advocate’s scoring system. One wine, the 2015 Brut Rose’ sparkling wine from William Heritage Winery of Mullica Hill was rated 90 points, a score reserved for “outstanding wines of exceptional complexity and character.” Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes also received particularly strong results, with four individual wines each scoring 89 points.
Hawk Haven’s entry into The Winemakers Co-Op comes just as the 2018 harvest gets underway in New Jersey. Between the five member wineries, almost 150 acres will be harvested. The Co-Op produces a collaborative wine—open-source Chardonnay—which will be pressed within the next week. Each winery will contribute half a ton of estate-grown Chardonnay grapes to the project. Once the grapes are pressed and the juice co-mingled, each winery takes home an equal share to be fermented and crafted in the winemakers’ individual styles.
The Open Source Chardonnay project will be a highlight of the Co-Op’s Fall Portfolio Tasting, to be held October 14, at Unionville Vineyards from 2 to 6pm. Each winery will bring eight estate vinifera wines to the event to taste and share with the public as the harvest season concludes. “Vine to Bottle: How the Open Source Chardonnay Came to Be,” will be a special presentation given by Mr. Cifelli, with photos taken during the picking and pressing of the collaborative wine. Live music and gourmet foods from Princeton-area restaurants will complement the tasting event.
To learn more about The Winemakers Co-Op visit www.thewinemakers.com. Executive Director John Cifelli may be reached at John@thewinemakersco-op.com.