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To borrow from written history, various documented internet sources, and my own education in and around the New Jersey Vineyards over the past year, I have discovered my new home makes more than just ‘Okay and fruity’ wine.
The state has begun to take back its bragging rights of being ‘The Garden State’* in the last few years, and is staking a claim in some of the best wines produced outside of California and France. In 1767, London’s Royal Society of the Arts had already recognized two New Jersey vintners for their success in producing the first bottles of quality wine derived from the colonial agriculture. The problem I believe, started when everyone wanted a stake in the wine industry here and began buying up land and growing wine grapes further north, where the soil and weather are vastly different. Thus the huge difference in wine.
The GSWGA website with its marketing verbiage of ‘Savor The Experience’ and hearing from locals about how great their wines are in the central Jersey area (as they showed me their local fruity blueberry and cranberry wine), I was beginning to think no one knew what good vino really was. I already hail from Texas where there are very few, if any drinkable to my mature palate in the Lone Star State ( Texas grows wine grapes, and bottles it!). Yes laugh! Five years ago when I hit what I call the central Jersey wine trail…well…I was more than disappointed. De ja vue hit me like a mad bull in a packed rodeo parking lot!
I am sure a few winery cowboys would love to come after me on that comment, but I do agree in the spring along the east bound highways of I45: blooming wildflowers, historical site seeing, and a few stops at wineries can break up the ‘out of the AC lock down’ lifestyle of the Lone Star State, but I discovered something MORE breath taking in Jersey.
The Outer Coastal Plain American Viticultural Area– beautiful acres of green grass, pine barrens, and shore line. New Jersey is a puzzle so spread out that it can take years to place each piece together and find your way around, but its worth the wait. New Jersey wineries are generally in one of two areas: the triangle defined by Atlantic City, Cape May, and Philadelphia or the strip from near Trenton to High Point along the Delaware River.
Last year while taking a weekend excursion, which there are so many here to discover with its rich history, I ended up in the Marlton, Berlin, and the Atco New Jersey area. Noticing the clump of wineries on the ‘Garden State Wine Growers Association’ map, we decided to visit a few and see if they differed from the upper regions near our home in Princeton. Some were more drinkable, but our last stop was Amalthea Cellars. We walked away more than two hours later with over a case of wine, and I have made a few trips back since.
A big southern Thank You to ‘The Garden State’* as is well known for; it consist of rich cultural food history, small historical towns dotted up and down its old highways, sprawling farmland, farmers markets and (in my opinion) some of the best wineries down south. Put them together, and the sweltering summer heat of late aside, I have come to embrace my new home of wine and foodie paradise.
There is a lot going on now that the New Jersey Outer Coastal Plain AVA is getting noticed, and I would not miss it if I were you!
*HISTORY: New Jersey’s nickname, the Garden State, derives largely from the more than one hundred year history of growing of fruits and vegetables in this area which supplies such produce to the mid-Atlantic region and as far north as Montreal.
Chef Elizabeth Stelling Food ~ Wine ~ Fun!