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.
The Coffee & Tea Festival delights sippers with steaming servings of steeped tea or freshly ground coffee from more than 40 exhibitors. Scheduled talks cover a variety of topics, such as the tea gardens of the Himalayas and how to start your own beverage-related business. During demonstrations, crowds learn about the peculiarities of tea leaves and how to render treasure maps in latte foam. Many exhibitors arrange pairings and tastings, including an in-depth look at tea-infused cocktails.
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.
Across 25 cities, up to 10,000 Santas descend from the skies?or perhaps their earthbound apartments?decked out in red and white costumes for a night that's anything but silent. Rather than crawling down chimneys, these jolly young Saint Nicks are crawling from one hip bar and pub to another, making their lists (of beers), drinking them twice, and preferring the naughty to the nice. At this annual Yuletide bash, which was once a 40-Santa event before it exploded into a national phenomenon, everyone gets to play Father Christmas as throngs of revelers follow their red noses along a path of drink specials, food specials, and a hottest Santa contest. Each event concludes with a live concert in which the Santas pack a music venue and shake their stuffing to an array of popular rock bands. A portion of the proceeds benefit charities.