The Garden State New Jersey – Gaining a Name in the Wine Industry
New Jersey, also known as the ‘Garden State,’ is famous for many things, including its Atlantic Ocean beaches, historical landmarks, great food, casinos, and diverse culture. In recent years, the Garden State has gradually carved out a respectable name for itself in the wine business.
As of 2014, there are 48 licensed and operating New Jersey wineries that are generating world-class wines.
New Jersey Wineries Location
Most of these wineries are found in South Jersey’s Outer Coastal Plain Viticultural Area, due to the region’s warmer climate and sandy loam soils. Several wineries are also located in Warren Hills Viticultural Area, and the Central Delaware Valley Viticultural Area.
New Jersey wine regions consist of over 70 percent of the state’s 5.6 million acres. New Jersey’s Outer Coastal Plain AVA spans 2,250,000 acres, covering nine counties (Cape May, Cumberland, Ocean, Atlantic, Salem, Monmouth, Burlington, Gloucester, and Camden).
The region’s favorable conditions for grape cultivation are influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay. Currently, there are 28 New Jersey vineyards in this viticultural area.
The Warren Hills AVA comprises 144,640 acres of Warren County, New Jersey. French hybrid grape varieties are mostly grown in this viticultural region. Established in 1988, this American Viticultural Area currently has 5 New Jersey wineries in the region.
The Central Delaware Valley AVA consists of 96,000 acres of land along the Delaware River, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Mercer and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. The climate in this region is ideal for growing Vitis labrusca and Vitis vinifera grape varieties. Currently, there are no New Jersey wineries operating in this area.
Grape and Non-Grape Fruit Wines
New Jersey vineyards produce more than 80 types of wines, made from over 90 grape varieties, and from more than 25 other fruits.
New Jersey is currently ranked seventh in overall wine production in the US. Some of the most popular grape varietals grown in the Garden State vineyards are Chardonnay, Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Vidal Blanc.
Non-grape fruit wines account for a significant number of New Jersey wine sales, specifically apple, cranberry, raspberry, and blueberry wines. These fruits are locally grown produce that can be easily procured in numerous farms throughout the state.
Quality Wine Alliance – Ensuring Quality Wine Standards
To ensure that wines produced in the Garden State conform to strict quality standards, New Jersey established a Quality Wine Alliance (QWA) program in 1999. The program is similar to the rigorous review standards set in France and Italy.
An independent review board made up of wine editors, certified wine judges, wine distributors, expert wine critics, and wine store owners evaluate wines that are submitted to the New Jersey Commercial Wine Competition.
The QWA seal is awarded to wines that pass the strict evaluation process. In addition, New Jersey wines that meet and exceed the rigorous standards bear the QWA seal on their products to ensure that customers are getting their money’s worth.
The Garden State Wine Growers Association
Out of the 48 Garden State wineries, 40 are associated with the Garden State Wine Growers Association (GSWGA).
This trade association was established not only to promote the New Jersey wine business, but also to provide tools for the advancement of research and education programs on grape growing, as well as efficient approaches to sustainable farming.
Unionville Vineyards – A Popular New Jersey Winery
New Jersey is home to some of the best wineries in the country. One of the most renowned New Jersey vineyards is the Unionville Vineyards. The Unionville wine business is located in the Ringoes section, the oldest known settlement in East Amwell Township in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. The winery comprises 54 acres of land solely devoted to grape cultivation, and generates 8,500 cases of wine annually.
Although Unionville New Jersey wine cellars are not located in any of the three viticultural areas in New Jersey, it is a member of both the Garden State Wine Growers Association and Vintage New Jersey. The vineyard is named after an erstwhile village, wherein the winery is located.
Unionville Vineyards is known for their Chardonnay wine, which won a gold medal at the 2010 International Wine and Spirit Competition. The vineyard was first planted with grapevines in 1988, and was publicly opened in 1993.
Unionville wine production involves the use of Alsatian, Rhone, and Burgundy grape varieties. It has five different vineyards that cultivate twenty-two wine grape varietals, including Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Durif, Seyval Blanc and Viognier.
Most Unionville wines are aged in neutral French oak barrels. These barrels impart unique characteristics to wines, and provide them with distinct flavors, such as vanilla, spice, and butter. These barrels are stored in large New Jersey wine cellars or barrel rooms.
Unionville New Jersey Vineyards has a strictly kept fermentation room, where wine production takes place. The room is housed in an original red barn that was constructed in 1858.
The winery holds daily wine tasting events in the original 1858 red barn. Some of the most popular labels found in Unionville New Jersey wine cellars and served during tasting events are Fox Series Pinot Grigio, Amwell Ridge Counoise, Cool Foxy Lady, Amwell Ridge Viognier, Fox Series Riesling, Revolutionary Red, and the famous Pheasant Hill Chardonnay.
Alba Vineyard and Its Award-Winning Wines
Founded in 1980, Alba Vineyards is located in Musconetcong River Valley. The historic barn that dates back to 1805 houses the winery and tasting room, which are surrounded by beautiful limestone walls and oak beam frames.
The Alba Vineyard is known to have been setting the standard for New Jersey wines, although some would argue this claim. Some of the award-winning wines that Alba Vineyard produces are Riesling, Chambourcin, and Gewurztraminer, which were given high evaluation scores by the leading wine critics. These wines were also presented with the Gold and Best of Class award in international wine competitions.
The well-known 2010 Pinot Noir wine by Alba Vineyard was given a rating of 93 points by the Beverage Tasting Institute.
Wine production and wine business in New Jersey is indeed very active. With the number of wineries that operates right now in New Jersey, and the quality of the wines they produce, the Garden State’s wine industry will continue to be an asset to the state.