Grand Vintage North Jersey Trail – South to North
The world was shocked in 1976 when a California wine toppled France in an international blind-tasting competition. Unrivaled for centuries, wines from the New World were challenging its position. Closely regulated, French wines are grown in “appellations” – areas and regions of the country which have ideal soil and weather conditions to produce premium wines. Today the US recognizes 188 officially designated “appellations” spread across 25 states.
New Jersey’s first appellation, called an AVA or American Viticultural Area, is located in Warren County, NJ. Named “Warren Hills AVA” it covers 226 square miles and includes within its borders Four Sisters Winery and Brook Hollow Winery near Belvidere and Villa Milagro Vineyards in Finesville. Other wineries of Northern New Jersey include Terhune Orchard, Vineyard and Winery and Hopewell Valley Vineyard in Mercer County, Unionville Vineyards, Old York Cellars and Beneduce Vineyards in Hunterdon County and Ventimiglia Vineyards in Sussex County. So, dust off your picnic basket, wipe off your wine glasses and head out to taste the good life on the Vintage North Jersey Wine Trail.
Begin the trail in historic Princeton at Terhune Orchards, Vineyard and Winery, located on a 120 acre farm. The tasting room is located in their 150-year old barn. As one of several wineries located on a working farm, visitors may also enjoy pick-your-own and other farm related activities, the farm stand and special events throughout the year.
Now head north to Pennington. Hopewell Valley Vineyards ilies at the base of the Sourland Mountains and in close proximity of the Delaware Valley with heavy soils of clay and shale agriculturally classified as clay loam. The total acreage of the vineyard is 75 acres with 20 acres dedicated to viticulture. Owners Violetta and Sergio Neri tap into three generations of European wine making experience with the challenges and excitement of establishing a state of the art vineyard and winery in the heart of the New Jersey terroir.
Next travel north towards Ringoes, NJ, and visit Unionville Vineyards,. The winemaking team explores the intricacies of terroir between five different estate vineyard sites, totaling over fifty acres. Their single vineyard series wines consistently earn high scores and international acclaim. The winery facility itself is situated alongside a stunning mid-19th century barn and farmhouse amid bucolic scenery. We suggest bringing a picnic dinner and enjoying the view from their new terraced stone patio, watching the sun set over the Amwell Valley Ridge.”
A short distance southwest through the beautiful and historic Hunterdon County Seat of Flemington. Old York Cellars sits along Old York Road, one of the county’s oldest roads, which during colonial times served as a stagecoach route from Philadelphia to New York City. Upon entering our vineyard lined drive, the rolling hills and panoramic vineyard views surround the rustic timber-frame building and stone patio, that on warm days is alive with customers enjoying a picnic lunch paired with one of our award-winning wines.
Continue your sojourn in the rolling hills of Hunterdon County as you travel north to
Beneduce Vineyards, located on a 51 acre farm in charming Pittstown, NJ. Its 7,000 sq. ft. winery is drenched in sunlight from three vintage windows that originally graced a schoolhouse in the 1870s. Relax with a glass of wine in their exotic Tropical Oasis or on a beautiful stone patio, or gather with friends for the unique experience of their Winemaking Club! Before you embark to Villa Milagro Vineyards, take a stroll down a walking path that connects Beneduce Vineyards to Sky Manor Airport, where you can enjoy a light meal as you watch the Hot Air Balloons, Helicopters and Prop Planes take off and land.
Now cross over the Musconetcong River and drive toward the Delaware River to find Villa Milagro Vineyards situated along its banks. This 104 acres preserved farm employees organic and sustainable agricultural practices in its eleven acres vineyard planted with ten varieties of winegrapes. Meaning “the place of miracles,” Villa Milagro produces European style blended wines, highlighting the best of each varietal to create one-of-a-kind wines. Winemaker, Dr. Audrey Cross, a renowned nutritionist, will help you understand the health benefits as well as the pleasures of wine.
Nearby places to settle in for the night include Chestnut Hill on the Delaware in Milford or Widow McCrea House, a historic victorian B&B in Frenchtown. Chestnut Hill was voted one of the nations most beautiful bed and breakfast inns. The Riegelsville Inn is both a tavern and inn, which once served passengers traveling via barge along the Morris Canal Tow Path.
Leaving the area near Villa Milagro Vineyard take a moment to visit the Rieglesville Bridge. Constructed by John A. Roebling who built the Brooklyn Bridge, it celebrated its 100th birthday in 2008 (?). Note the water’s 100 year high mark reached in 2005 and again 2007, which threatening to damage this 100 year old historic landmark.
Turn north on River Road to eventually reach Synders Road with an opportunity to pass through the Alpha Grasslands, approximately 1,000 acres of preserved open farmland designated part of the Natural Heritage Priority program of the New Jersey’s Green Acres Program. NJ is in a direct migration route between Canada and Mexico for thousands of birds. Bring your binoculars to catch these birds in flight.
Take Carpentersville Road to make a right onto Main and travel to County Road 519.
Now travel ahead through farm land and pass the Warren County Fair which each year hosts a five day balloon fest. You will soon reach Four Sisters Winery, just north of Belvidere. Owner, Robert “Matty” Matazzaro, prides himself on the fun events held at his farm. From corn maize to hayrides to grape stomping, murder mystery dinners and weddings, you will find many reasons to return again to Four Sisters Winery.
A few short minutes away, you will find Brook Hollow Winery, a family farm winery nestled in the heart of the scenic Delaware Water Gap area of New Jersey. Each hand-crafted wine is fermented, aged and bottled by the family. They pride themselves in delivering dry complex varietals that can be enjoyed alone or easily paired with your favorite meal. When you visit, be sure to try a customer favorite, the Cranberry Wine made from 100% fresh NJ Cranberries!
Now travel northeast into Wantage to visit Ventimiglia Vineyards. Owners Anne and Gene Ventimiglia have been making wine for decades and have finally decided to share their talents. Their tasting room is inviting and friendly. You will feel like part of the family when you join Anne and Gene to taste their wines.
Exhausted and satiated, your taste of the good life in northern New Jersey will hopefully make you proud to boast to Californians, French and New Yorkers alike that indeed there are wines from Jersey…. and mighty fine ones at that!