Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery

Kenna and Todd Wuerker own and operate Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery on a third-generation farm, which Todd’s grandparents founded in 1940. Hawk Haven produces 1,800cases of high quality wine annually and hosts events on the expansive and hawk-rife property.

Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery opened its oversized wooden doors to guests in the summer for 2009. The new winery is the fourth operational winery in Cape May County, which is fast becoming a wine destination (there are four operational wineries and three more vineyards will open within the next few years). Noted wine professor, consultant and judge Gary Pavlis asserted, “The Hawk Haven wines prove that Cape May is one of the best places on the East Coast to grow wine grapes."

The new and modern vineyard produces wines that speak for themselves; the Pinot Grigio and Merlot are particularly standout. "The Merlot blew me away and seems more like a Napa wine than an east coast wine” and the Pinot Grigio has, “great fruit and great minerality” said Pavlis.

The Wuerker Farm, now Hawk Haven, began when Felix Wuerker, whose father was a winemaker, traveled to America to work as a dairy hand. He fell in love with Irene Heathcoat, a native of Cold Spring, NJ. They bought a dairy farm near Irene’s home in the sandy, haven of Cape May County, NJ. Their son, Ed Wuerker, has worked that same farmland all his life. He and his wife Sue have watched as the sandy soil of the Wuerker farm produced, in turn, snap beans, peas, pumpkins, the iconic New Jersey lima bean and finally – wine grapes.

Although Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery is new, Todd has practiced the art of grape growing for twelve years. He started the vineyard with 100 Cabernet Sauvignon vines and watched them flourish. Now, he is pushing the traditional limits of New Jersey vineyards and experimenting with grapes like Malbec and Tempranillo.Hawk Haven Vineyard’s sprawling property has two lakes and even a swing for the kids. Guests enjoy picnicking on the property with bottles or glasses of wine. On “Sangria Sundays”, blonde sangria is available by the glass ($5) along with other frozen drinks including a blended rosé called a “Rosarita”. The extra-long mahogany bar in the tasting room exudes a relaxed modernity.

Wines start at $14 per bottle and include 2008 Pinot Grigio, 2007 Red Table Wine, 2007 Merlot, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 American Kestrel, 2008 Riesling and 2008 Red-Tailed Rose. Tastings are $5. The tasting room is open every day from 11am to 7pm. 600 South Railroad Avenue. Rio Grande NJ. (609) 846- 7347.

There's lots of good things going on at Hawk Haven. If you don't visit, when you're down there, then you are missing something.