If it weren't for a pesky aphid, Renault Winery may never have existed. When parasitic bug wiped out much of Europe's grape crop, it forced master vintner Louis Nicholas Renault to move from France to the United States. He eventually settled in New Jersey, a state that boasts a similar climate to France and a similar accent to Parisians. Here, he cultivated American grapes that were unfettered by the insects, turning Renault Winery into a prize-winning establishment and eventually into a New Jersey historical site.
Today, the winery offers tours of its storied grounds, inviting visitors to peruse while sampling a wide variety of reds, whites, and champagne. The space also doubles as a popular wedding venue and even houses a golf course on site.
After graduating from Vassar College in 1997, vintner Tom Carroll Jr. continued his education in California, where he taught himself about viticulture and enology to achieve a lifelong dream of opening a winery. Three years later, he returned to his hometown to found Crossing Vineyards on a plot of land situated a short distance from George Washington’s Delaware River crossing. The winery mingles historic charm and pastoral surroundings with modern technologies, such as a sterile HVAC bottling system and solar-energy panels. Tom and his parents, also co-owners, built the facility around eco-friendly winemaking practices, such as composting waste and using cover crops, a technique that prevents topsoil erosion and helps vintners sing the young grapevines to sleep.
Crossing Vineyards' European-style wines have won more than 115 awards in both national and international competitions over the past 12 years. The winery offers tastings and wine-pairing classes in an onsite educational area and hosts an annual summer wine-and-music series on its sprawling, 15-acre property.
Two buffalos graze between hundreds of fruit-bearing trees. But it?s the grapes sprouting throughout Cassinelli Winery & Vineyards' 110 wooded and open acres that matter most. Each hand-selected and sustainably farmed grape emerges from the earth to take its first step toward becoming one of 12 wines produced at the vineyard. Those include a 2009 Barbera reserve and a 2009 Merlot, bronze- and gold-medal winners, respectively, at the Maryland Governor?s Cup, a cup always filled with wine or melted cheese. Seven total medals have distinguished Cassinelli wines, which the company?s owners share at their tasting room, events, and a quartet of outlets throughout the state.
Home to a rousing lineup of award-winning wines, Sharrott Winery's passionate staff helps make the nuanced art of drinking wine more easily accessible. Located on 35 rolling acres, the winery and vineyard crafts a host of varietals from start to finish—tending to rows of grapes and fermenting the juices at their on-site facility. Samples of nectars such as the silver medal-wearing dry riesling or the trio, a grape trifecta that results in smooth notes of vanilla, lilac, and fresh cherries, are available inside the spacious tasting room, which overlooks the vineyard so grapes can mature before guests' very eyes.
Tents and tables cover the grassy, waterfront lawns of Lake Lenape Park East for a two-day celebration of good eats and sips at the Waterfront Wine & Food Festival. Vendors work alongside students from the Academy of Culinary Arts to prepare fresh cuisine and stage cooking demonstrations, while winemakers pour samples to throngs of attendees. An outdoor wine garden provides a designated space to sip and dine while socializing, and guests can peruse hand-crafted gifts to take home to a loved one or someone they just owe a favor to.
Though most of the festival is unstructured, one of its core events is an amateur wine competition, where judges sample guest submissions of red and white wines designated as sweet and dry hybrids, vinifera, and soft or stone fruits. Live music from Atlantic City lounge singer Beth Tinnon and a steel band provide a lively soundtrack throughout the two-day shindig.
Winner of several NJ Wine Competition awards, including 2010 Winery of the Year, Tomasello Winery has been owned and operated by three generations of Tomasellos since 1933. Today, the founder’s grandchildren teach their children the family business on a 70-acre winery, nestled in the Outer Coastal Plain AVA. The historic wine-growing area’s rich soil and sunlit fields produce not only flavorful reds and whites, but also unique sparkling and fruit vintages. In five tasting rooms scattered across the state, fans can sample the Tomasellos’ wines, from the semi-sweet Winter Chill white to the full-bodied blackberry wine, a tasty ingredient for sauce reduction. Tomasello winery also ships wine directly to 17 states.