Exploring the Cultural Influences on Winemaking in New Jersey

When it comes to winemaking, New Jersey is a state that has a lot of history and potential. Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc are two of the most successful grapes across the state, and Alan Richman has even traveled to New Jersey in search of good wine in some of the most unlikely places. More than half of the wineries in New Jersey grow their own grapes, but in the Skylands region, with a few brutal winter days killing crops, winemakers prefer not to put all their vines in the same basket. The sandy soil of Cape May and Atlantic County allows South Jersey winegrowers to experiment with coastal grape varieties. When I graduated from Connecticut College, I knew I wanted to study plant biology, and soon after, I focused personally on viticulture.

I took all my classes with viticulture in mind, and our findings have important implications for the marketing and export activities of the wine industry, especially in a globalized world. The wines were selected in a blind tasting in South Africa, led by a 10-person panel composed of five experts in the Chenin Blanc industry and five members (staff and postgraduate students) from the Department of Viticulture and Enology of the University of Stellenbosch. Like the vines and wines I usually grow, I was shaped by the unique environment and culture of Cape May County. Cream Ridge's countless fruit wines are a reminder of the state's once praised agricultural diversity. An attractive aspect of winemaking in New Jersey is that, while there is a lot of winemaking history, the exploration of possible grapes, clones and wine styles is still in a relatively incipient phase.

Therefore, sensory descriptors are likely to be less influenced by expectations and may represent a more accurate reflection of the mental representation of wines in general. However, over the past two decades, significant efforts have been made to improve viticultural and oenological practices and to produce high-quality Chenin Blanc wines that reflect the character of the variety and the geographical origin. If New Jersey wants to accelerate the production of fine wines, Mike Beneduce believes that a culture of collaboration is vital.