Saturday, December 03, 2011

Press of Atlantic City Raves About New Jersey Wine Country

Posted: Sunday, November 27, 2011 11:40 pm
By LEE PROCIDA Staff Writer
Press of Atlantic City

HAMMONTON — “New Jersey wine country” is still far from a household phrase, but more people are learning every year that the Garden State is home to a growing number of quality vineyards.

That was clear this weekend at wineries in Hammonton and the surrounding area, which were overrun with guests for the annual Holiday Wine Trail Weekend.

“Yesterday was a mob scene,” said Barbara Mazzola, of Hammonton, a saleswoman who was pouring wines Sunday at Tomasello Winery. “People had the rented jitney buses, school buses. It was nuts.”

Wineries host wine trail weekends throughout the year, including a Valentine’s Day weekend, Mother’s Day weekend and another weekend in the middle of July. During these weekends, they open their tasting rooms and provide food, gifts, music, and other entertainment.

Each “wine trail” is a loosely defined area in which several wineries are clustered. There are seven trails that the Garden State Wine Growers Association maps out, and the Atlantic County Wine Trail is home to the heaviest concentration of vineyards.

Tomasello is the largest winery in the state, and

it shares Hammonton’s sandy soils with Plagido’s Winery and DiMatteo Vineyards. In the neighboring townships of Waterford, Winslow and Shamong, there are Amalthea Cellars, Sharrott Winery, and Valenzano Winery, respectively.

Not far outside the town are also Renault Winery in Egg Harbor City, Sylvin Farms in Galloway Township, Bellview Winery in Buena Borough and Balic Winery in Hamilton Township.

Cape May has four of its own, stretching from Natali Vineyards and Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery in Middle Township down to Cape May Winery & Vineyards and Turdo Vineyards & Winery in Lower Township.

Four more make up the Gloucester and Salem counties cluster, while Swansea Vineyards in Shiloh Borough is often combined with Bellview and Coda Rossa Winery in Franklin Township as another wine trail.

There might be even more clustered throughout South Jersey if it weren’t for an extended legal battle over the state’s wine regulations that has tied up new licenses. New wineries in Cape May and Cumberland counties are already producing wine but cannot legally sell it without licenses.

State legislators have not been able to reach an agreement over how to resolve the issue, which hinges on the equitable treatment of in-state and out-of-state wineries and how they sell their wines in New Jersey. Winemakers are hoping that a resolution can be reached during the current “lame duck” legislative session.

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