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.
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.
Amid a 22-acre estate, Heritage Vineyards's grape grapplers craft award-winning wines and pair them with sumptuous finger foods. Visiting pairs can choose a lunch dish and a glass apiece from the grandiose wine list. Sip the 2007 cabernet sauvignon, which comes tinged with a deep crimson hue and flavors of cherry and currant, or the Jersey blush, a semisweet concoction that can be smeared on the cheeks to express embarrassment. Meanwhile, the newly released 2009 chambourcin has been aged for 14 months in French-oak barrels and brandishes a complex bouquet of tastes. Or find matches for your wines without filling out 30-page questionnaires by scanning the lunch menu, which pairs the wines with compatible cheese-laden fare such as the warm pepperoni-and-cheese bread or the baked brie, formed with a fig spread and served with sesame crackers.
Blue Mountain Vineyards owners, Joe and Vickie, are pinot pioneers. Beginning with a 5-acre experiment in 1986, they discovered that the soil of the Lehigh Valley does a fine impression of French terrain, making it suitable for growing the grapes of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and other European varietals. Since then, they've expanded to a 50-acre plot, where they now produce wines that have won awards from the Fingerlake International Wine Competition and Appellation America.
Panoramic views of the Blue Mountains overlook scenic terraces at the vineyards, where grapes spring from soil that soldiers roamed during the Revolutionary War. Tastings, concerts, and other events fill the winery's glass-flanked deck, spilling onto an outdoor patio surrounded by ponds as tranquil as a silent lullaby. Visitors admire the vines during tours, and they can also adopt their favorites to preserve the vines' flavorful histories.
As it's been chronicled on their blog, the story of Auburn Road Vineyards is a long, meandering one. Founded by wine connoisseurs who eventually evolved into wine creators themselves, the secluded countryside parcel is home to rows of tangling vines, where grapes grow heavy and lush before transforming into complex vintages. At The Enoteca—the on-site wine bar—visitors converge over bottles of wine and shareable plates, such as wood-fired pizzas made every Saturday evening.
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.