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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category


“More than two hundred years ago, London’s Royal Society of the Arts recognized two New Jersey vintners for their success in producing the first bottles of quality wine derived from colonial agriculture. Today New Jersey’s wineries continue the tradition of producing high quality wines.”  Garden State Wine Growers Association

The Jersey Fresh Food & Wine Festival sponsored by the Garden State Wine Growers Association (GSWGA) will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday, August 14th and 15th, from Noon to 5 p.m. at Heritage Vineyards in Mullica Hill, NJ.  With an abundance of New Jersey wineries on hand, this event will feature hundreds of award-winning New Jersey produced wines.  This year’s Jersey Fresh Food & Wine Festival will also have an array of gourmet food and fresh produce available – all made in the Garden State.

This year’s festival also features live entertainment on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, the festival will feature Eryn Shewell. This young and talented singer-songwriter has performed in venues such as the legendary Stone Pony, The Saint, The Cutting Room, Bluebird Café, Café Coco as well as popular clubs throughout New Jersey, New York City, New Orleans and Nashville. 

On Sunday, the festival will feature Swampadelica.  This unique group blends and bends lead vocalist’s Nadïne LaFond’s native language, Haïtian Kreyol, with English and then mixes it with electric guitar and a modified and mutated American jazz & rock staple, the Hammond B3. 

Sound Good?  Wanna Go? 
Here’s how:
All you have to do to win the complimentary passes is make a guess on the total number of screw cap wine closures that I’ve got stashed in my WineLife365 “Estimation Station” shown below.  That’s it!
The first person to guess without going over wins all 4 tickets!

Approximate dimensions of the container: 15 x 11 in. at the opening and 9 in. tall

To Enter:

  • The contest starts now and is open to anyone! 
  • Place your guess in the Comment area of this post or the WineLife365 Facebook Page.  Please limit to 2 guesses.
  • This contest will close at 8pm ET on Wednesday, August 11st.

I will announce the correct number and the lucky winner shortly after the contest closes.  
Good luck and happy guessing!

Oh Canada!

Last week, my wife and I decided to take a break and pack up the family truckster to head for Niagara Falls with the kids.  To save a couple dollars, we usually pack some wine with us for our hotel room.  However, since we were heading outside the US, we decided that we would purchase our stash once we crossed the border to avoid any issues with the Canadian Border Control.

Being that this was our first trip to Canada, I wasn’t familiar at all with how and where I could purchase wine.  I soon found out that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is the government – owned corporation that controls the sale of liquor, wine, and beer through a chain of retail stores in Ontario.  Established in 1927, LCBO stores are generally the only place that is allowed to sell hard liquor in Ontario. 

With that being said, after a 9-block trek on a very cold and rainy night to a local wine & spirits store (don’t worry the wife and kids were warm and dry in the hotel room), it didn’t take long for me to figure out my options:  Locally produced VQA born and raised wines from Ontario and nothing else!  Now I’m no stranger to drinking locally-bred wine, and I fully intended on trying plenty of Canadian wines, but damn – this was the very first time that I’ve ever stepped foot into a wine & spirits retail store and stared over such a massive army of locally-bred wines.  They had it all – Dry, Sweet, Red, White, Blushes, Sparkling, etc…and all 100% Canadian Vino! 

So, when in Rome…  I picked out a few whites and a few reds all costing around 20 US dollars and opted to save Canada’s famous Icewines for later. 

Out of the few wines that I purchased, only one of them left a lasting impression on me – the 2008 Fielding Estate Winery Pinot Gris.  It possessed outstanding crisp acidity with pear and apple flavors, and was overall just a well-made and delicious white wine.  As for my red wine selections, well… they were all relatively mild and lacked complexity found in similarly priced wines from other parts of the globe.   After this first experience with Ontario reds, I was beginning to wonder if bold red varietals just didn’t grow well in this particular microclimate…

Fast forward to our last day in Ontario.  Besides seeing The Falls and visiting the other tourist attractions in Ontario, my wife and I were also hoping to sneak in a pit stop or two along the Ontario Wine Trail.  However, if you’re parents of young children like us, then you probably know that visiting a winery is about as much fun for the kids as the 8 hour drive to Canada – it’s long, boring and they can’t wait move on to something more exciting like say… a 3-acre indoor water park! 

With this in mind, we decided not to torture our kids with multiple winery stops.  So on the recommendation of some WineLife365 fans we decided to make our one and only visit to the Inniskillin Winery

Not only did Inniskillin blow us away with their killer Icewines, but they also debunked any passing thought I may have had about the lack of bold reds in Ontario.  Inniskillin proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that the classic cool climate viticulture region of Ontario is also suited for growing outstanding Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling, as well as, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and even Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Here’s a list of the Inniskillin wines that had us cheering and waving the Canadian Flag:

1.      Inniskillin 2008 Legacy Riesling ($30 US) A world-class Riesling capable of holding its own against the best of ‘em.

2.      Inniskillin 2007 Reserve Series Cabernet Franc – At $17 US dollars, this Cab franc is a great buy packed with dark fruit and nice spices. 

3.      Inniskillin 2007 Winemaker’s Series Merlot – ($22) Concentrated, long finish and still has me scratching my head saying, “Ontario, Canada – Really?!”  Great juice and terrific winemaking!

4.      Inniskillin 2007 Winemaker’s Series Cabernet Sauvignon – ($25) Huge, rich - tastes like a big Napa Cab.  Very approachable now, but also age worthy.

5.      Give credit where credit is due… after trying the above four wines, Inniskillin’s fabulous array of Icewines is the icing on the cake!  Each one was a total powerhouse!

One final note about our visit to Inniskillin Winery - I’d like to give thanks to Mr. Jonathan Medhurst for an outstanding and insightful tasting experience, and a special thank you to my wife for keeping the kids entertained while I tasted through these terrific wines!

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!



On the Way to Cape May…

Warm, sunny, beautiful autumn weather along with great wine, food, and entertainment for the entire family are in store for folks that make their way this weekend to the charming beach town of Cape May, New Jersey.


The annual Cape May Wine Festival will be taking place on October 10th and 11th, from 12-5 p.m. at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal, overlooking the Cape May Canal and Delaware Bay.


More than 20 New Jersey wineries will be on hand to offer guests some of the finest locally produced Chardonnay, Chambourcin, Syrah, Marechal Foch, Viognier, Traminette, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. There will also be a large array of fruit wines such as raspberry, cherry, and blueberry to satisfy sweet wine lovers.


In addition to wine sampling, festival goers will be treated to live music, various types of vendors, and a “Kids Zone” for those who are bringing the whole family.  Festival attendees can also take advantage of “Victorian Week” which will be running through the end of Sunday.

Anyone interested in learning more about this particular festival can call The Garden State Wine Growers Association at 609-588-0085 or visit their website. 


With the weather in the Northeast being nearly perfect, this should be a truly relaxing and enjoyable event.  



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