- Grand Vintage North Jersey Trail – North to South
(Traveling North to South)
The world was shocked in 1976 when a California wine toppled France in an international blind-tasting competition. Unrivaled for centuries, wines from the New World were challenging its position. Closely regulated, French wines are grown in “appellations” – areas and regions of the country which have ideal soil and weather conditions to produce premium wines. Today the US recognizes 188 officially designated “appellations” spread across 25 states.
New Jersey’s first appellation, called an AVA or American Viticultural Area, is located in Warren County, NJ. Named “Warren Hills AVA” it covers 226 square miles and includes within its borders Four Sisters Winery and Brook Hollow Winery near Belvidere and Villa Milagro Vineyards in Finesville. Other wineries of Northern New Jersey include Westfall Winery, Ventimiglia Vineyards and Cava Winery & Vineyards in Sussex County, and Unionville Vineyards, Old York Cellars and Beneduce Vineyards in Hunterdon County. So, dust off your picnic basket, wipe off your wine glasses and head out to taste the good life on the Vintage North Jersey Wine Trail.
At the “top of New Jersey,” located in Montague, NJ is Westfall Winery. With a colorful history that begins in the 1700s and includes chapters on the Continental Congress, the Underground Railroad, and most recently, its legendary Morgan horses, Westfall turned a new leaf in 2000 when Loren Mortimer, a third-generation owner, and his winemaking wife, Georgene, broke ground to plant a vineyard. With High Point monument in the distance and horses trotting around this working horse farm, you will enjoy a relaxing time sampling wines and visiting the historic grounds of this lovely farm.
Travel a bit west into Wantage to visit Ventimiglia Vineyards. Owners Anne and Gene Ventimiglia have been making wine for decades and have finally decided to share their talents. Their tasting room is inviting and friendly. You will feel like part of the family when you join Anne and Gene to taste their wines.
A little farther East, nestled in the beautiful Sussex Skylands, you will find Cava Winery. Winemaker and owner, Anthony Riccio, spent a good portion of his youth in Morris County working on a farm. In his adult years, after traveling the Tuscan countryside with his wife Deneah Bledsoe and watching working hands take grapes from vine to wine, he decided to bring his heritage and their passion for winemaking back to the region where his love for working the land began.
Dropping down just north of Route 80 in Columbia, you will find Brook Hollow Winery, a family farm winery nestled in the heart of the scenic Delaware Water Gap area of New Jersey. Each hand-crafted wine is fermented, aged and bottled by the family. They pride themselves in delivering dry complex varietals that can be enjoyed alone or easily paired with your favorite meal. When you visit, be sure to try a customer favorite, the Cranberry Wine made from 100% fresh NJ Cranberries!
From Columbia, head back to Rt. 80 and travel east a short distance to CR519 then South to Four Sisters Winery, just north of Belvidere. Owner, Robert “Matty” Matazzaro, prides himself on the fun events held at his farm. From corn maize to hayrides to grape stomping, murder mystery dinners and weddings, you will find many reasons to return again to Four Sisters Winery.
Nearby places to settle in for the night include the RoseMary Inn and Hotel Belvidere. The beautifully appointed RoseMary Inn is a bed and breakfast located on 17 pastoral acres in scenic Knowlton Township. The Hotel Belvidere is located in Belvidere – a charming Victorian town located on the banks of the Delaware and Pequest Rivers.
Leaving Belvidere, continue south on CR519 across Routes 57 and 22, then through the borough of Alpha.
A right turn on High Street joins you with Carpentersville Road then left onto Oberly to pass through the Alpha Grasslands, approximately 1,000 acres of preserved open farmland designated part of the Natural Heritage Priority program of the New Jersey's Green Acres Program. NJ is in a direct migration route between Canada and Mexico for thousands of birds. Bring your binoculars to catch these birds in flight.
Next go right on Snyders Road into the quaint village of Carpentersville then left on River Road to see the Delaware on your right. When you reach the Rieglesville Bridge note the water's 100 year high mark reached in 2005 and again 2007, which threatening to damage this 100 year old historic landmark. The bridge was constructed by John A. Roebling, builder of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Following the road left, you come to Villa Milagro Vineyards. This 104 acres preserved farm employees organic and sustainable agricultural practices in its eleven acres vineyard planted with ten varieties of winegrapes. Meaning “the place of miracles,” Villa Milagro produces European style blended wines, highlighting the best of each varietal to create one-of-a-kind wines. Winemaker, Dr. Audrey Cross, a renowned nutritionist, will help you understand the health benefits as well as the pleasures of wine.
As you enter into the rolling hills of Hunterdon County, stop in for an informal tasting at Beneduce Vineyards, located on a 51 acre farm in charming Pittstown, NJ. Its 7,000 sq. ft. winery is drenched in sunlight from three vintage windows that originally graced a schoolhouse in the 1870s. Relax with a glass of wine in their exotic Tropical Oasis or on a beautiful stone patio, or gather with friends for the unique experience of their Winemaking Club! Before you embark to Old York Cellars, take a stroll down a walking path that connects Beneduce Vineyards to Sky Manor Airport, where you can enjoy a light meal as you watch the Hot Air Balloons, Helicopters and Prop Planes take off and land.
Departing Beneduce the trail will take you southeast through the beautiful and historic Hunterdon County Seat of Flemington. Old York Cellars sits along Old York Road, one of the county's oldest roads, which during colonial times served as a stagecoach route from Philadelphia to New York City. Upon entering our vineyard lined drive, the rolling hills and panoramic vineyard views surround the rustic timber-frame building and stone patio, that on warm days is alive with customers enjoying a picnic lunch paired with one of our award-winning wines.
Heading west and nearing the Delaware River, visit Unionville Vineyards, also in Ringoes. The winemaking team explores the intricacies of terroir between five different estate vineyard sites, totaling over fifty acres. Their single vineyard series wines consistently earn high scores and international acclaim. The winery facility itself is situated alongside a stunning mid-19th century barn and farmhouse amid bucolic scenery. We suggest bringing a picnic dinner and enjoying the view from their new terraced stone patio, watching the sun set over the Amwell Valley Ridge."
From Unionville Vineyards head back to Route 31 and travelling south, head towards historic Princeton about 20 minutes. Terhune Orchards, Vineyard and Winery is located on a 120 acre farm and the tasting room is located in their 150 year old barn. As one of several wineries located on a working farm, visitors may also enjoy pick-your-own and other farm related activities, the farm stand and special events throughout the year.
Exhausted and satiated, your taste of the good life in northern New Jersey will hopefully make you proud to boast to Californians, French and New Yorkers alike that indeed there are wines from Jersey…. and mighty fine ones at that!