Famous Winemakers and Families in New Jersey's Wine Industry

The founders of the winery Sarah Troxell and Galen Troxell, and their daughter Erin Troxell, have undoubtedly earned the title of “Grüner's first family”. A look at part of Galen Glen's wine range reveals one of them is Julianne Donnini, the winemaker of the husband and wife duo that owns Auburn Road Vineyards. The goal now, as Mike Beneduce stresses, is to establish its own wine culture and identity in New Jersey. It doesn't make sense to be the “next Napa Valley” or “Willamette Valley”; the goal is to create New Jersey's first (and only) wine industry.

For these former students, elevating the reputation of New Jersey wines is an operation from scratch that begins simply by getting the word out to local wine lovers. It's about catching people's interest in local food and showing them that New Jersey can offer products as good as those found elsewhere. The sandy soil of Cape May and Atlantic County allows South Jersey winegrowers to play with coastal grape varieties. For more information about the Women in Wine Caucus and the Garden State Winegrowers Association, visit their website.

At the forefront of this movement are SEBS graduates, who came together to raise awareness of their own farms and New Jersey's burgeoning wine industry. Larry Coia is New Jersey's “Wine Bridge”, linking immigrant tradition with the future of wine in the Garden State. The process began seven years ago when Sally Semeria, a sommelier and wine expert from the Food & chain in Milan, set out to bring the flavor of small American wineries to Italy. Founded by Benduce Vineyards, Heritage Winery, Unionville Vineyards and Working Dog Winery, which have a relationship with former Rutgers students, the cooperative brings together winemakers who focus on premium dry wines, made with classic European grapes grown on New Jersey soil.

Mike Beneduce, a fourth-generation farmer from New Jersey, understands the economic and environmental factors that drive the wine industry. Like the whole of Blaufränkisch, New Jersey's regional economy is a solid platform for the growth of the wine industry. While much of NJAE's outreach focuses on grape cultivation, the annual wine workshop is aimed at winemakers. Most of these producers said that their iron-rich vineyards tended to make their favorite wines.

Semeria discovered that there were many similarities between Italy and New Jersey, starting with the state's Italian community. Mike Benduce, owner and winemaker of Benduce Vineyards, in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, is one of the state's leading advocates for blaufränkisch. Most of New Jersey's vineyards are within 2 hours of New York City and Philadelphia, which is an advantage that should not be ignored.