Page 54 - 2020 Southern New Jersey Vacationer
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Discover Southern New Jersey Wines - One Sip at a Time
  Cape May Winery
THE ROMANCE OF THE VINEYARD is universal. The ancient Greek god Bacchus extolled the pleasures of the harvest, wine- making and wine. Many centuries later poets William Butler Yeats, Percy Bysshe Shelly and even Emily Dickinson praised the beauty of the vineyards and the enjoyment of wine.
Fortunately, Southern New Jersey wineries don’t have the reputation of Bacchus, who ultimately had a grape named for him, but they do enjoy a growing reputation for excellent wines, pastoral vineyards and welcoming facilities for tours, tastings and more.
Three of Atlantic County’s vineyards and wineries are well into their second century, dating to 1864 when Louis Nicholas Renault, a master vintner from France, established a vineyard in Atlantic County that bears his name and is now the second oldest
continuously operating vineyard in the United States. In 1888 the vineyards at Tomasello Winery, the second-oldest active winery in the state, were planted and the first vines at Balic were established in the early 1900s.
But it wasn’t until the early 1990s that the very southern tip of the state, Cape May and Cumberland counties, became a viable addition to New Jersey’s wine reputation when the first vines were planted in Lower Township.
Apparently, as one local vigneron noted, Southern New Jersey was sitting on a gold mine for cultivating grape vines and, as in so many undertakings, location is everything. The area, known as the Outer Coastal Plain, is a unique grape-growing region. The maritime climate, longer growing season with more frost-free days provides the environment that helps grapes mature with
more moderate tannins.
Days are warm, nights are cool, mirroring
a climate similar to Bordeaux. Sandy soil and breezes from the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean nurture the vineyards and help keep the leaves – the canopy – dry, something that many European grapes need to thrive and ultimately produce excellent wines.
The Cape May Peninsula AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in extreme southern New Jersey. The 126,635 acres wine appellation includes most of Cape May County and a small portion of Cumberland County.
Willow Creek Winery – The romance of the vineyard is universal and Willow Creek Winery offers vineyard vistas and gardens for strolling that will surprise and delight. Beyond the architecturally stunning Villa, the impressive hand-carved, post-and-beam winery is surrounded by a beautiful outside brick patio. The huge tasting room is open daily for tastings with a tapas menu to share with friends – the true sense of the word “tapas” means to enjoy. Firepit Friday is a great way to end the week and start the weekend. Stevens St., West Cape May; 609-770- 8782;
Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery – Visit the wine bar at Hawk Haven for a tasting of a selection of wines or enjoy a vineyard and winery tour – and learn the history of
   Willow Creek Winery

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