Monday, February 20, 2012

Old York Winery (Ringoes, NJ)

OK, so I like to wander. If you’re a grown up with a car and time on your hands, this can lead to a lot of new things. Exciting discoveries. But with two kids in the back seat, there’s not always a lot of joy in Mudville when Dad starts following the winery signs down winding country roads. I mollified the growing angry mob in my back seat by reminding them that I had in fact brought them to a fast food chain outlawed by my wife, and that another such stop, while away on a “man trip”, would be nullified if the raucous dissent continued. There is nothing like bribery. I know, I’m a bad parent.

Anyway, the current quarry in my sights was a winery I had never heard of before in central New Jersey named Old York Winery. While there was much apparent newness about the place, something about it was also familiar. Then I realized this was the old Amwell Vineyards.

Amwell Valley Vineyard was established in 1978 by Michael and Elsa Fisher. Dr. Michael Fisher was a Distinguished Senior Scientist at Merck Research Laboratories in Rahway, N.J. and was a recipient of the 1987 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award. After reading an article in Scientific American about the various grape growing regions in the world, Dr. Fischer contacted one of the contributing authors, Philip Wagner of Boordy Vineyards in Maryland. Under the tutelage of Mr. Wagner, the Fishers planted various types of French/American hybrid vines.

Dr. Fisher was among a small group of winemakers who helped overturn the somewhat archaic wine laws of New Jersey. With the help of then Congresswoman Barbara McConnell, who introduced and got passed into law, the Farm Winery Act of 1981 in New Jersey was born. Amwell Valley Vineyard was the first New Jersey Winery licensed on August 31, 1982, under the Farm Winery Act.

The Fischers closed the winery three or four years ago. Then it was bought by David Wolin, who purchased it in 2008, and reopened it in 2010. He later sold it to Laurin Dorman and Scott Gares who now own it. Gares is the winemaker.

The winery has been completely redone. The tasting room is stylish, with a beautiful room, complete with stone and chrome and soft beautiful woods. The bottles are as much a part of the décor as thy part of the experience.

The first wine I tried was the 2009 Chardonnay. The chardonnay has some nice fruit up front with touches of green apple and honeydew with hint of vanilla and spice.

2009 Malbec was the next wine. This is not the big, deep Chilean or Argentinian type . This is a medium bodied Malbec. It’s got great fruit, with plum and a light jammy-ness. With fun, smooth and low tannins. Very nice long lasting finish.

Then there was the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. This had big fruit up front, with hints of cassis, plum, and prune. The is a very nice medium-to-big wine. There’s good acidity and nice tannins. A well balanced wine. This wine won a Gold Medal at the Riverside International Wine Competition. This is a very pretty red wine. Impressive.

2009 Syrah was also very nice dry red wine. Big, deep fruit flavors of dark raspberry with a hint of prunes. A light hint of fallen leaves, or barnyard – but in a good way. Big fruit, nice, acidity and nice, balanced tannins. Very Rhone-ish. Very nice.

There is also a lovely separate space for parties, performances, and art exhibits. During my visit, there was an art exhibit.

Old York Cellars is a special little winery. Everything old is new. And all the wine is good. And the views, even in winter, were wonderful!

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