on March 24, 2014 at 7:52 AM
With family in France — she’s a second generation French American — many of her relatives had small vineyards on their properties.
So, she thought, I shoud do the same. After all, it is the Garden State.
“It was the Garden State long before anyone knew it would be a vineyard state,” Cassidy said.
Today, according to Cassidy, New Jersey wines are beginning to outpace those made in California. Back in the 1970s, California was trying to prove itself as a wine region and that’s what New Jersey is doing now. And although her winery, Salem Oak Vineyards, is just outside of the Outer Coastal Plain American Viticulture Area — a region known for winemaking in South Jersey — the rich soil in the state, and particulary on her five-acre farm, is perfect for growing grapes for good, often award-winning wines.
“We’re going to give Bordeaux a run for their money,” she said.
At first, it was just her and other close family members experimenting with wine making, she said.
And lo and behold “it made good wine,” said Cassidy. “It was very weird.”
Guests visiting the vineyard, which has a large tasting room, don’t think it’s weird at all. Cassidy said the winery has only been open since December, but through social media and word of mouth, more and more wine lovers have visited the vineyard. And they all leave with a bottle or two in hand.
“I know the wine is good, but I’m still surprised other people like it, too.”
Since it’s such a family affair, Cassidy decided to name the bottles of wine after the children in the family.
There’s the Mathis and Juliamarie, a red and white named after Cassidy’s 18-year-old twins; the Luke, her nephew, and the Analise, her niece. Her other niece and nephew, Jake and Olivia, are still awaiting their vintages, but there’s also the Triple Twin wine — a pink, strawberry vintage named for the two sets of multiples born in the family — Cassidy’s twins, and her brother’s triplets — Luke, Jake and Olivia.
"Everyone loves the Triple Twin wine,” she said.
Made with fresh Jersey strawberries from “right up the road,” it’s Cassidy’s favorite. She lines the wine glasses with dark chocolate shavings, pours in the blush-colored wine and calls it the “Triple Twin Tini.”
“It’s so much fun to use the crops here and make amazing, yummy products,” she said.
Wineries in South Jersey continue to pop up year after year, but Cassidy is happy with the friendly competition.
“Everyone is so original with what they do,” she said. “No one is stepping on anyone’s toes.”
For a wine region to get the attention it needs, more wineries need to be in that region, she added.
“We’re very excited to finally see them open up,” said Scott Donnini, owner of Auburn Road Vineyards in Pilesgrove, just 15 minutes away. “I think it’s fantastic that there are more and more wineries opening in the area. We’re really excited for them.”
For more information about Salem Oak Vineyards visit, www.salemoakvineyards.com or call, 856-889-2121.
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