South Jersey Wine Country
Atlantic County Magazine – GACCA Article
Print Date 11.12. 2021
By Judy Brenna
You know, our visit the other week to Stockton University Atlantic City Campus to meet with Hospitality Guru, Donna Albano ((“AC Gems Rediscovered” available in the GACCA Blog archives)) got me thinking. Yes, it’s true, prehistoric NJ was a vast and lush swamp, chockful of minerals and good stuff plant life still to this day love to feed off to thrive. And that is specifically why our state is famous for producing some of the most delicious fruits and veggies in the world. It is a known thingamabob that NJ produces the most cranberries, blueberries, and eggplant in the world. NJ peaches are unrivaled, and so is our Sweet Jersey Corn. But! Our grapes are something to be admired as well. Which is why the South Jersey landscape is the perfect setting for winemakers. It is a known fact that certain regions of the world are prime real estate for producing wine, regions of Italy, for example, of course, thanks to the rich, volcanic deposits, and the Napa Valley for its uber unique climate, consisting of warm summers and extremely mild winters. But NJ is unique, thanks to thousands of years of enriched soil. Which leads me to my next point, there are SO many vineyards down here! And not many people realize how truly great their products are, or how vast the supply is in general. Let’s break down the list, shall we? ((Everyone gathers in a circle on the rug, sitting Indian style, in the Children’s section of the public library, while Judy, squeezed in a children’s sized chair, opens her South Jersey Wines pop-up book)).
There are SO many, you guys! A quick list, Sharrot Winery, Plagido Winery, Tomasello Winery, and DiMatteo Winery, all in Hammonton, Jesse Creek Winery and Natali Winery in Cape May Courthouse, Bellview Winery in Landisville, Hawk Haven Vineyard in Rio Grande, Valenzano Family Winery in Shamong, William Heritage Winery in Mullica Hill, Willow Creek Winery, Cape May Winery, and Turdo Vineyards, all in Cape May, I mean the list goes on and on and on and on and on. Are you amped up now? You should be.
There are 2 places in our county that, in my humble opinion, are totally worth mentioning, mainly because, I like-a their juice, the first being Renault Winery, in Egg Harbor City. And let’s just start off the bat right now and squash some confusion. It’s pronounced Ru-NO, not Ren-ALT. There, ((breathing a sigh of relief)), I feel better. Ru-NO Winery boasts 157 continuous years of careful cultivation, persistence, and innovation. Nurturing the dream of their founder, Louis Renault, who set out to produce champagnes and fine wines to be enjoyed throughout the world. Their champagnes and fine wines have been continuously produced since 1864 and, fun fact, they are among a very elect few United States wineries with the privilege to label their sparkling wine as Champagne, using their state-of-the-art champagne methods and careful crafting enable Renault Champagne and Fine Wines to continue its timeless legacy. And they happen to offer a few choice products that my body can handle. ((Side bar, your honor)) I have an issue with drinking wines, partly because wine gives me headaches, but mainly because I am rapidly advancing towards “old lady curmudgeon” phase, so my body can’t handle anything too sweet, which makes me extremely sour, hence the curmudgeon. Anyhoo, Renault also serves up a huge supply of fun and entertainment at their venue. Sure, they host magical weddings, we all know, but they also have their Vinter Wonderland, with their ice skating rink, horse-drawn carriages, shopping, and more, but they also offer wine and dine experiences that are unsurpassed. Their Champagne Garden experience is my absolute fave. Check out their website and learn more at https://www.renaultwinery.com.
Another place, which I highly recommend, is Balic Winery, in Mays Landing. A rich, and grounded setting, Balic Winery, founded by Savo Balić ((is there even a cooler name out there? That is THE quintessential name for a villain in a James Bond flick)), a former vine-grower , and definitely no villain, from the Adriatic Sea, migrated to the United States, and in 1966 he fulfilled his lifelong desire to bring European accent to the American winemaking scene by acquiring the 57-acre vineyard. Now in its 55th year, and run by Savo’s nephew, Bojan, there are many exciting things happening at Balić's Winery. They’ve revamped their buildings, upgraded their equipment, and expanded their product line with several new wines released to better serve their growing clientele. And they have pretty stellar events lined up this November, like their Fall Gala next weekend, November 20th and 21st, featuring violinist and mandolinist, Susan Salmon. Check them out at https://www.balicwinery.com.
Speaking on November 20th ad 21st… I’m sure you’ve figured out what’s coming next. Ladies, this one’s for you. No literally. ((#shamelessplug)) The Deauville Inn, in Strathmere, is hosting a stellar Ladies Weekend, in conjunction with Sea Isle City Girls Weekend, featuring a champagne brunch at our place, with a complimentary glass of champagne for everyone in attendance. It’s champagne, which falls under the wine category, therefore it’s related to this topic. The event takes place both days from10 am - 2 pm. Make your reservations today by calling me at 609.263.2080 or www.deauvilleinn.com.
The moral of this story is to acknowledge we have right here in our own backyards, a celebration of great quality wines. When I lived on Long Island, one of the biggest things to do in the fall there was to reserve tickets on a bus to tour their wine country. Well, there’s no need to travel all the way to the Long Island Expressway. We have it right here. A wine tour in this region is the perfect idea for a romantic date, a bachelorette weekend, or just a gathering with your closest friends celebrating local purveyors. I highly consider it for your next weekend’s outing. But, of course, not before you come down to the Deauville Inn ((wink emoji)). That’s all I got. Now take thee to the river of wine ((insert double hand clap emojis here))!
Until next week, folks… #stayjerseystrong!