By Tracy R. Wiggins
Gloucester County Times
Stationed peacefully in the Delaware River at the Camden Waterfront, the Battleship New Jersey stands regal, proudly relaying to all its decorated history of serving its country in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf.
However, like most sectors of our nation, it has been affected by the sagging economy. It has recently experienced a reduction in staff, budget and hours.
The staff at the battleship along with local winemakers at Auburn Road Vineyard & Winery in Pilesgrove Township are hoping that a new fundraising venture will help plug some of the economic holes for the ship.
Auburn Road Vineyards has created two new wines the Battleship Red and the Battleship White that will be offered at various venues, including local retail liquor shops, Auburn Road Vineyards and the ship itself. A portion of each bottle sold will go directly to the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial.
According to Scott Donnini, co-owner of Auburn Road Vineyards, the project has been a truly collaborative effort right from the start.
Donnini said he and business partner Joe Reilly were attending a Jersey Fresh event held on the Battleship New Jersey in September. While impressed with the event, Donnini said they were astounded by the ship itself.
"It's such an amazing ship with an incredible history," he said.
During the event, Donnini met Jack Willard, senior vice president of marketing and sales for the battleship. Their discussion on the ship and its history soon turned to the challenges of operating and preserving the ship, particularly during tough economic times.
When Donnini and Reilly offered to help in any way they could, Willard suggested the idea of a custom wine specifically for the battleship.
"We loved the idea and volunteered to not only make one wine but we would make two a red and a white," Donnini said. "We'd donate a portion of the proceeds to the ship and have information on the label indicating how people could help or donate if they chose."
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