At Renault Winery Resort & Golf, a glimpse into history begins at a wine barrel. Fashioned from the top of an old oak cask, a gold-lettered sign marks the entrance to the state-registered historic site, where staff cultivates and harvests 12 local and international grape varietals across more than 31 acres of vineyards. This flourishing estate owes its existence to one man, whose journey began nearly 150 years ago.
In the mid-1800s, vintner Louis Nicholas Renault plied his trade in Rheims, France. When a parasitic aphid nearly crippled France’s winemaking industry, Renault fled to California, where the insect struck again. He followed rumors of an aphid-resistant American grape varietal to the fields of New Jersey where he found a climate similar to that of his native France—and his winemaking flourished.
Not even Prohibition could halt his operation, which continued under a special permit. After his death in 1948, the winery continued to expand for the next five decades, adding a chateau, 50-room inn, and restaurant by 2001. Since then, Renault Winery has offered lodging and entertainment in addition to the fruits of its vines.
Visitors to the Tuscany House won’t remember crossing the Atlantic Ocean, which is perfectly normal. The House’s decadent lobby, an inner courtyard with a garden, mimics the villas of Italy: its marble columns and curving staircase lead up to a mezzanine constantly patrolled by at least one member of the Swiss Guard. Off the lobby, hallways lead to private rooms and suites filled with king-size beds and heavy wood furnishings.
Joseph's Restaurant melds the estate’s Mediterranean charm with New Jersey influence. Executive Chef Joseph DeGennaro—whom food critic Bob Bickell described as “outstanding” in his Restaurant Report—fills plates with Tuscan burgers and pastas tossed with grilled chicken and lobster.
Arbor-covered corridors and rambling lawns dappled with statuettes lead to the winery. On tours, guides lead visitors past the mixing and fermentation tanks while revealing the steps of the winemaking process. After the tour, groups select samples from more than 32 varieties of wine. The on-site wineglass museum lets groups dive further into the world of wine, displaying glassware dating back to the 13th century.
Visitors don’t have to join in the harvest to experience the grounds firsthand. Vineyard Golf, an 18-hole championship-level course, winds through the rolling vineyards. Players drive down open fairways, avoid five water hazards, and putt onto greens nestled against the rows of plantings.
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.
Though Bellview Winery was only established in 2000, its history is almost a century long. After immigrating from Italy, Angelo Quarella purchased the original 20-acre plot in 1914. Angelo named the farm Bellview, and worked its soil over the decades, all the while maintaining his own cellar of homemade wines. Jim Quarella, Angelo's great-grandson, would see the family farm expand to more than 150 acres, 40 of which are populated by swelling grapevines. The winery building still contains Angelo's original cellar.
Even after 100 years, the land is still good to the Quarellas. Its fruits go into each of the winery's 30 varietals, encompassing dry, semisweet, and fruit concoctions. Fistfuls of freshly plucked dandelions go into a family-recipe dandelion wine, the flower's wish-granting ability distilled down into a potent vintage. Bellview Winery offers something for everyone in a friendly and accessible environment. At the pastoral tasting room, visitors lounge under the shade in picnic seating, sipping at filled glasses and endlessly chomping the ends off cigars from the humidor before stopping at the gift shop.
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.
When its first location opened in 1996, Valenzano Winery was a modest endeavor. Fewer than 500 gallons came from the winery that year, doled out to a handful of local wine stores. But since then, Valenzano has expanded to three wineries, each crafting wine from grapes grown at southern New Jersey vineyards. From reds and whites to fruit wines—such as cranberry and blueberry—Valenzano's pours span a wide range of flavors and aromas. Visitors might try the Old Indian Mills Blend, an oak-aged reserve blend that's garnered awards.
Growing up in South Philadelphia, Angelo Lutz spent hours looking on as his Italian grandmother handcrafted meals for their family. Now, as the head chef at The Kitchen Consigliere Café, Lutz tries to stay true to both Philadelphia and Italy by sourcing ingredients from local merchants and markets to craft time-tested Italian dishes. He molds gnocchi and meatballs in the kitchen and presses panini sandwiches, all the while remembering family recipes and the dangers of getting a chef hat tangled in a ceiling fan.
Nestled between the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, our vineyard is a natural born safe harbour of serenity and abundance. Cultivated by the determination & passion of 3 generations, an oasis has been preserved. Sandy soils, cool ocean summer breezes & tempering waters create the perfect growing conditions for wine.