The Garden State Wine Growers Associatio n will hold its annual Barrel Trail Weekend this Saturday and Sunday at participating wineries across the state. Visitors to participating New Jersey wineries and vineyards will have the opportunity to sample future award-winning vintages direct from the barrel room; enjoy wine tastings; new wine releases; tour the vineyards; and hear discussions on the winemaking process from wine makers.
"Barrel Trail weekend introduces winemaking to the general public as they learn how wine develops and the different nuances and styles that winemakers use to craft their product," Tom Cosentino, executive director of the Garden State Wine Growers Association, said in a press release.
There are other states and wine trails that hold this kind of event in March and April, to kick off the "tourism" season.
But New Jersey has been holding its event long enough (more than 10 years and always in mid-July) that consumers are used to the time and year. Cosentino said he thinks the event has been successful because "it gives consumers an insiders perspective on winemaking."
All New Jersey wineries will be open for tastings and activities on Barrel Trail Weekend. To find a winery in the state, click on this link. Updated listings of Barrel Trail events are available at this link.
Some of the activities being planned at wineries include:
Autumn Lake Winery in Williamstown will offer an exclusive behind-the-scenes experience and sampling of wines right from the barrel. Saturday from 11-6pm and Sunday from 12-5pm, be the first to taste future vintages with the winemakers. For just $6 per person, meet their Albarino '17, Chardonnay '17, Blaufrankisch '16, Cabernet Sauvignon '16, along with the next batch of Port - with special 25% discounts on pre-ordered case lots. The current wine list will also be offered with 7 tastings for $6 and souvenir wine glass. Enjoy your favorite by the glass or bottle with live music (Sat 2-5 Jazz with Jude & Gary/Sun 1-4 Acoustic classics with John Rossi), and a freshly-made cheese plate. Bellview Winery, Landisville - - Have you ever tried a wine in progress? You're in luck! On Barrel Tasting Weekend you can sample the upcoming 2017 vintage of Cabernet Franc straight out of the barrel. Along with this young wine Bellview will be sampling aged vintages of Cabernet Franc as a flight so that you can experience how this unique varietal develops over time. This will be the only release of the 2007 and 2012 Cabernet Franc to the public, while supplies last. These wines will only be available for tasting during Barrel Tasting Weekend for $6 per person. Along with an exclusive wine preview the vineyard tour trailer will be hooked up and rolling through the vineyard for your vine viewing pleasure. Trailer rides are free of charge, on a first come first served basis, and will be offered from 12pm-5pm. In addition to this special tasting they will also be pouring samples from the everyday wine list for $6 per person which includes a souvenir wine glass to take home. Natali Vineyards in Cape May Courthouse is having a Barrel Tasting with the Winemaker. For $10, spend the afternoon in the barrel room with the Winemaker for an educational tour and barrel tasting. Taste the Winemaker's favorite wines straight from the barrel paired with gourmet cheese and crackers. Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery in Cape May has their daily winery tour. Taste through their wines as your guide leads you through every step of the wine making process from the vineyard to the vast steel tanks and French oak barrels. Discover what makes each wine unique and how our wine maker achieves every flavor and aroma. Learn the history of Hawk Haven while you sip. The tour concludes with a selection of gourmet cheeses to enjoy on the vineyard view crush pad. Go online at hawkhavenvineyard.com or call (609) 846-7347 for reservations. $25 per person includes tour, wine tasting, cheese, and souvenir glass. Sharrott Winery in Hammonton will offer Barrel Tastings at 12:30, 2:00, and 3:30 pm both days. here you will taste unfinished barrel samples of their dry red wines side by side with the latest released vintages. You will learn to taste wine just like the winemakers do. Barrel Tasting is $12 per person (free Wine Club Member tasting applies); please check in at their new tasting room and arrive 15 minutes prior to the tasting to secure your spot. At Hopewell Valley Vineyards in Pennington, special tastings from the barrel will be available each day at 2 and 4 p.m. Regular wine tastings :$6 +tax for 6 samples or $10 +tax for 10 samples (both include etched HVV wine glass). Tomasello Winery in Hammonton on Saturday & Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. will feature 20% off their Palmaris wines, specialty cocktails made with Tomasello wines, martinis, beer, wine, light fare and Tapas. Pricing is a la carte pricing. Tickets not required. At Villa Milagro Vineyards in Finesville at 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, tour the "Chill Room" where you will learn how they finish, age and bottle wines using no additives. (Check website for tour times) Sample future vintages directly from the barrel then sample our currently bottled wines. $10 includes tour, wine tasting, appetizer plate and gift glass. Working Dog Winery in East Windsor both days will offer a day filled with vineyard tours (weather permitting), wine education, and award-winning, estate-bottled wine. Admission is $5. In addition, there will be a Premium Tasting (including a barrel sample) offered for an additional charge. Musical entertainment will be supplied by the band, Cat Moon Daddy, on Saturday and on Sunday Rob Messina's band, Rhyme & Reason, will perform. Food trucks will also participate including Tower Dogs on the 14th and Gyros to Go on the 15th. Chestnut Run Farms in Pilesgrove, which is only open to the public on wine trail weekends, will offer tastings from noon to 5 pm each day. Plagido's Winery in Hammonton, 4JGs Winery in Colts Neck, Monroeville Vineyard & Winery in Monroeville, and Ventimiglia Vineyards in Wantage will also be hosting Barrel Trail events. Balic Winery in Mays Landing will be holding its annual Summer Festival along with the Barrel Trail on the weekend of July 14th and 15th. There will be live entertainment both days. They will be serving food from their affiliated restaurant. There are more than 50 wineries spread across the state.
Barrel Trail weekend is funded through a grant from the New Jersey Department of Tourism.