The History of Winemaking in New Jersey: From Colonial Times to the Present

Wealthy landowners in New Jersey began producing wine during the colonial period. In 1767, two men, Edward Antill and William Alexander, Lord Stirling, received recognition from the Royal Society of Arts in London for their successful efforts to grow grapes and produce wine on their plantations. New Jersey wine flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Master viticulturist Louis Nicholas Renault, representative of the Duke of Montebello's former champagne house in Reims (France), decided to settle down and establish his own vineyard in New Jersey.

In 1864 he bought land in the Egg Harbor area and, in 1870, he had already introduced his New Jersey champagne. The Renault winery quickly gained notoriety, winning awards for its wines and becoming the largest distributor of champagne in the United States. The success of this winery even earned Egg Harbor the nickname “Wine City”.New Jersey has a long history of wine production, dating back to the early days of European colonization. New Jersey's first vineyards were planted by Dutch colonists in the 17th century, and by the beginning of the 19th century, the state was home to more than 100 wineries.

Most of these wineries were located in the southern part of the state, which was ideal for viticulture due to its moderate climate and rich soils. Like most states in the U. S., after Prohibition it took more than half a century for the state to become a wine destination. Hampered by a post-Prohibition law that allowed only one winery for every million inhabitants, an Agricultural Winery Act was enacted in 1981, eventually allowing for the creation of more wineries. Dating back to colonial times, New Jersey has always been considered a thriving region for growing grapes for winemaking.

However, the ban negatively affected the wine business and, for nearly 50 years, from 1933 to 1981 (when the Agricultural Winery Act was passed), there were only about six wineries in the state. An avid globetrotter, she has visited more than 60 countries and has addressed a variety of diverse topics, from historic hotels in Hawaii to gourmet chocolate in New Mexico and wine tours in Italy, Portugal and Spain. The Germans were the first to come to New Jersey and try their luck with viticulture, which transformed the city, which was almost non-existent, into a city of German winegrowers. With three federally named AVA regions and a winemaking history that dates back to colonial times, New Jersey has a strong history of growing grapes for wine and is now capitalizing on the emergence of dedicated winemakers and farms that can bring the product to the masses.