The Department of Commerce has identified that Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chambourcin are the most cultivated red wine grape varieties in New Jersey. These red wines are perfect for more intense autumnal dishes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah. If you prefer white wines, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Viognier are great options, and Cayuga's native wines add a nice touch to any meal. Rosé wines go well with ham, turkey, various cheeses, fruits, salads and other snacks.
Chardonnay is the ideal grape variety for New Jersey vineyards of European wine varieties. It is one of the best-growing and also the most popular wines grown in Northern New Jersey. But is New Jersey wine really good? Renowned sommelier Susanne Wagner gets asked this question all the time from her guests at the Latour restaurant in Hardyston. Since colonial times, New Jersey has always been considered a fruitful region for growing wine grapes.
New Jersey wines have won top prizes in some of the most famous international wine competitions in the world. Despite these positive developments, experts continue to say that, unlike wine tourism destinations such as Napa and New York's Finger Lakes, the challenge will continue to be accessibility. The Garden State Winegrowers Association (GSWGA) has been a powerful driver of change, organizing five wine festivals and four weekends with wine tours across the state (from February to November) to demonstrate the impressive quality of the wine produced in vineyards across the region. Tom Cosentino, executive director of GSWGA, explains why New Jersey wines are more popular than ever and why it's the optimal time to familiarize yourself with some of the wines, visit the wineries and sample a variety of vintages.
For example, wineries are receiving many requests for Couer d'Est, a red wine blend made exclusively from grapes grown on the AVA outer coastal plain. It's really exciting to represent the industry and to be able to raise public awareness about New Jersey wine in my work. Currently, there are more than 80 grape varieties growing in New Jersey and more than 2000 acres of grape production for wine. New Jersey winegrowers specialize in growing and producing wine from Vitis vinifera and Vitis labrusca grape varieties or French hybrids.
The number of wineries continues to increase and those wineries are developing old and new varieties that work well in the state. For wine drinkers, New Jersey may be considered an unnoticed American region, but today, the wine business has improved dramatically in the Garden State. Wine lovers will be surprised to learn that the sandy soil of Atlantic and Cape May counties, in southern New Jersey, offers growing conditions similar to those of the famous Bordeaux region of France. The ideal grape varieties for New Jersey wineries depend largely on the climate and terroir that characterize New Jersey's wine region.
In terms of weather conditions, New Jersey's vineyards have a relatively short growing season (from May to the end of September), making it difficult for certain red wine varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, to mature properly on a consistent annual basis. Sweet wine lovers can enjoy numerous fruit wines made with fresh products such as apples, blueberries and peaches.