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Archive for November, 2009

Road Trip – New Jersey Wine Trail

Earlier this year, I shared with you my first experience with New Jersey produced wines.  At that point in time, I was rather ashamed to admit, being in a neighboring state to New Jersey, that I actually had no clue that so many wineries even existed in New Jersey.  But since then, I’ve had an opportunity to taste many of the wines produced by the state’s 33 wineries that boasts the sixth largest wine production numbers in the United States, according to a 2008 Wine Industry Report .  What’s even more impressive about these production numbers is the rather large number of different types of wine that is being produced in the Garden State.  Because of its climate and geological diversity, there are more than 40 different varieties of grapes being grown here – ranging from Pinot Noir and Riesling in North Jersey and Italian varieties, such as Sangiovese and Barbera, in Southern Jersey.

Most of the states’ wineries are located in the more rural parts of New Jersey where the soil is more conducive to raising the kinds of grapes necessary to make a wide range of varietals and fruit wines.  Nearly all of the states wineries have tasting rooms for you to sample there wines. In most cases, when inside the tasting rooms, you will be chatting with the very people who have grown, picked and crafted the wines that you’ll sample. 

Over the past five years, many New Jersey wineries have been garnering their fair share of medals in both national and international wine competitions. Earlier this year, a New Jersey Riesling won Best of Class and a Double Gold in San Francisco.  Last March, a unoaked Chardonnay won Double Gold as well as a Best of Class in the prestigious International Finger Lakes Wine Competition.  In acknowledgement of this achievement, the New Jersey state legislature last year declared November as New Jersey Wine Month. 

If you do decide to visit New Jersey’s wineries, you may wish to visit more than one. Many of the state’s wineries are literally within minutes of one another.  Yet, despite their proximity, many offer wines that are completely different from their neighbors’.  When visiting, be sure to ask about the Garden State Wine Growers Association Passport.  If you have your passport stamped at each of the New Jersey wineries, you’ll be eligible to win a trip to Bordeaux, France.



To better plan your visit the New Jersey Wine Growers’ Association website.  You can also go to the site for a statewide map of the vineyards.  

Listed below are some regional clusters along with the mileage and times it will take you to get to one another according to MapQuest:

Atlantic County Cluster

Amalthea Cellars to Sharrott Winery – 12 minutes and 7.58 miles

Sharrott Winery to Tomasello Winery – 8 minutes and 4.4 miles

Tomasello Winery to Plagido’s Winery – 5 minutes and 2.07 miles

Plagido’s Winery to DiMatteo’s Winery – 4 minutes and 1.76 miles

DiMatteo’s Winery to Valenzano Winery – 23 minutes and 15.31 miles


Cape May Cluster

Natali Vineyards to Hawk Haven Vineyards – 14 minutes and 9.77 miles

Hawk Haven Vineyards to Cape May Winery & Vineyard – 6 minutes and 3.46 miles

Cape May Winery & Vineyard to Turdo Vineyards & Winery – 2 minutes and 1.23 miles


Cumberland Cluster

Coda Rossa Winery to Bellview Winery – 9 minutes and 5.89 miles

Bellview Winery to Swansea Vineyards – 41 minutes and 29.34 miles


Gloucester Salem Cluster

Wagon house Winery to Heritage Vineyards – 6 minutes and 3.62 miles

Heritage Vineyards to Cedarville Winery – 11 minutes and 6.95 miles

Cedarville Winery to Auburn Road Vineyards – 15 minutes and 8.79 miles


Shore Cluster

Silver Decoy Winery to Cream Ridge Winery – 10 minutes and 6.45 miles

Cream Ridge Winery to Laurita Winery – 12 minutes and 8.79 miles

Laurita Winery to 4JG’s Family Winery – 43 minutes and 26 miles


Sussex Cluster

Cava Winery & Vineyard to Ventimiglia Vineyards – 13 minutes and 7.58 miles

Ventimiglia Vineyards to Westfall Winery – 20 minutes and 14.32 miles


Warren Hunterdon Cluster

Four Sisters Winery to Alba Vineyard – 39 minutes and 19.42 miles

Alba Vineyard to Villa Milagros Vineyard – 1 minute and .80 mile

Villa Milagros Vineyard to Unionville Vineyards – 43 minutes and 29.16 miles

Unionville Vineyards to Hopewell Valley Vineyards – 15 minutes and 10.66 miles


Elsewhere in New Jersey

Other NJ wineries include the Renault Winery in Egg Harbor, which is one of the oldest continually operating wineries in America, and the Brook Hollow Winery in Columbia, right on the border of Pennsylvania in the Delaware Water Gap.

If you’ve never tried a New Jersey produced wine and are looking for an out of the ordinary day trip to take, then mark down a date on your calendar and visit one or several of the fine wineries in New Jersey!



Thanksgiving Calls for an American Made Wine

With Thanksgiving only days away, you might be wondering what wine to serve with your traditional turkey and side dishes.  Here’s a hint – Something American!


Thanksgiving is an American holiday that, in my opinion, deserves an American-made wine.  There are many types of wines to choose from, whether white or red, or sweet or dry, but my personal favorite with this holiday meal is a good old-fashion American Cabernet Sauvignon.  It’s big and bold flavors are brawny enough to stand up to just about any traditional side dish that you throw at it as well as any herbs and spices that you decide to use on your Thanksgiving turkey.


Here are a few very reliable American Cabernet Sauvignon names that you may want to consider shopping for:


·         Beringer Vineyards – Whether it’s their inexpensive Cab or higher priced Reserve Cabs, Beringer Vineyards Cabs are pretty darn reliable and tasty year in and year out.


·         Columbia Crest Winery – Like Beringer Vineyards, Columbia Crest fires on all cylinders at any price point in their line-up of Cabernet Sauvignon offerings.


·         Rodney Strong Vineyards – Good, solid, and reliable – for under $15 bucks, this Cab really tunes in the dial with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.


·         Chalk Hill – For some reason, these guys are under the radar of a lot of California Cab lovers.  Take the discount and this hidden Sonoma County gem to the bank and buy yourself and your guests 2 bottles for the price of 1 big Napa Valley Cab with the same headiness.


·         St. Supery – If you’ve got $30 or more in your wallet, this California Cab will certainly blow you and your guests away.


·        If the sky’s the limit in your budget, you may want to try one of these ginormous tasting American Cabernet Sauvignons:  Fife Vineyards Reserve or Cornerstone Cellars.


Happy Thanksgiving!  

Wine Review – 2005 Heavyweight Red

From:  California

Price:  $9.99


Bare-knuckle boxing is recognized as the first form of boxing, and it involved two competitors fighting one another without the use of boxing gloves or any other padding on their hands.  During this era in boxing, John Lawrence Sullivan, who was nicknamed the “Boston Strong Boy”, was considered by most historians and boxing experts as the first ever US Heavyweight Champion of “gloved” boxing and also as the last heavyweight champion of “bare-knuckle” boxing.



Seeing this John Sullivan inspired label enticed me to go ahead and purchase it to taste what this “Heavyweight Red” was made of.  After only a few seconds into the first round with this supposed heavyweight, that is comprised of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Syrah and 10%, I quickly found out that this heavyweight had nothing more than a “glass chin”, in boxing speak.


Light, fruity, weak and hollow on its follow through makes this red blend a more formidable match in the Lightweight Division.  Unfortunately, in the 750ml and under $10 category this “Heavyweight Red” just doesn’t compete!


I award the “Heavyweight Red” 1 Star out of 4.  There’s a lot more blood, sweat and tears that need to go inside this bottle in order for it to live up to the legendary heavyweight status of its label .  


WineLife365 Rating: 1-Star 

Looking for Clues: Decoding a California Wine Label

The next time you purchase a bottle of California wine, take a closer look at the front and back labels.  Besides eye-popping artwork, tasting notes, and love stories, you’re also likely to see one of these three wine terms on them as well:


Vinted & Bottled By

If a bottle lists the term “Vinted & Bottled By” on either the front or back label, this indicates that a minimum of 10% of the wine contained inside that bottle was fermented at the winery whose name shows up on the bottle.  Alternatively, the label may also read, “Made and Bottled By”, which has the same meaning.


Produced & Bottled By

This term indicates that the winery, whose name is on the label, was responsible for crushing, fermenting and bottling a minimum of 75% of the wine inside the bottle.  However, it does not mean that the winery actually grew the grapes used to make the wine.


Estate Bottled

This is the formal way of saying that 100% of the wine that you’re drinking came from grapes grown on land owned or controlled by that particular winery, located in the specified viticultural area named.  It is the formal way of saying that the winery listed on the front label was responsible for crushing, fermenting the grapes, any wine-making processes and bottling the wine in one continuous operation.  Some labels may also say, “Grown, Produced and Bottled By”, which means the same thing as “Estate Bottled”.


California Wine Laws require all California wine labels to specify one of these three designations. However, from a consumer standpoint, this label disclosure requirement should not be used as the Holy Grail for determining whether an “Estate Bottled” wine is superior to the other two designations or vice versa; it’s just for legal purposes.


Check it out, the next time you’re shopping for California wines.





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