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.
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.
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.
Wine, beer, whiskey?and whisky?if it's a craft beverage, Atlantic City Bottle Company has got it in stock. On the beer side of the equation come packs of such brews as the rich and rugged Stone Smoked Porter, the heavily malted Rogue Dead Guy, and Elysium's hopped-up masterpiece The Immortal IPA. Distillers from all over the world supply a rainbow of whiskeys, from the ruddy tang of Bowman Brothers' small batch bourbon to the thick golden glory of Highland Park's 18-year expression. Oenophiles and vampires trying to keep up the illusion can select wines from all over the globe, including varietals from wine countries in California, France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, and Argentina. And besides bottles to take home, all of these fine beverages may be sampled in a tasting menu at the Iron Room: Atlantic City Bottle Company's in-store restaurant where chef Kevin Cronin serves charcuteries, artisanal cheeses, game meats, and his specialty Flat Iron Burger.
Four different vineyards. More than 150 acres of land. Sixteen varieties of grapes. All-star numbers aside, Cape May Winery draws on the region's mild climate, sandy soil, and paucity of runaway weed-whackers to harvest a vast selection of flavorful varietals. A barrel-fermented chardonnay holds rank as the facility's signature white after a 16-month aging process. Visitors can sneak a peak at that process and many others during daily tours, or just relax and savor the winery's products inside three elegant tasting rooms and on an outside deck.
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.