48 Hours in Cape May- A Vintner Project Article

We are very excited to share a collaboration with The Vintner Project, a website devoted to sharing diverse stories about wineries and the people behind them. We had an interest in joining this project to spread the word of the high quality New Jersey wines that are being produced.

Our article for The Vintner Project is a 48 Hour Travel Guide for the Cape May area. Use the link below to check it out. Let us know what you think!

Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed



Alba Vineyard- 6/1/2019

Happy start to Summer, wine lovers! We are excited to bring you a review of our recent experience at Alba Vineyard earlier this month. Alba Vineyard is located in Pohatcong, NJ and has been open to the public since 1982. They are one of the oldest wineries in our state.

Alba recently built and opened a new tasting room on their property. We have been to Alba previously, but had not been back since the transition to their new tasting room. When we walked into the new spot, we were amazed by the beauty of this new space. The design is breathtaking and we also learned that it was built by the owners, themselves. A talented family of winemakers and contractors? That is impressive!

We were ecstatic to meet Nick Sharko during our visit who is one of the owners and operators of Alba Vineyard. Nick gladly took us back for our tasting and spent a good amount of time discussing Alba’s wines and the facility upgrades that they’ve recently made. In addition to discussing their wines, Sharko provided us with highlights of some special wine releases that will be coming in the future. Keep your eyes out for some big releases coming soon from Alba!

We opted for the reserve wine tasting which is priced at $25/person. The reserve tasting gives you the option to taste eight of Alba’s higher end wines along with some small bites (cheese, meats, crackers, etc.) to accompany the tasting. The eight wines include some of their single vineyard plot wines which give you the option to taste the unique terroir on Alba’s property. We also had the opportunity to taste two wines that were not on the reserve tasting menu, thanks to Sharko! One of which was a third Chardonnay, which allowed us to taste and compare a total of three Chardonnay’s during our tasting.

The eight wines from the reserve menu that we tasted were (tasting notes from Alba):

  1. 2017 Dry Riesling- Ripe peach, bright citrus notes, and balanced with minerality
  2. 2018 Pinot Gris- Bright acidity with notes of minerality, mango, and fresh citrus
  3. 2017 Wedding Rock Chardonnay- Grapes were harvested at night to maintain its structure, ripe fruit and minerality with a long and balanced finish, 14 months 66% new oak barrels
  4. 2016 Grand Reserve Chardonnay- The creamiest of the Chardonnay’s we tasted, barrel aged for 16 months 100% new oak and includes another 6 months of bottle aging, notes of peach and mango
  5. 2017 Chelsea Dry Rose- Charmbourcin grapes used to make this dry rose, lots of fresh strawberry notes with some watermelon
  6. 2015 Pinot Noir- Cherry and earthy notes on this vibrant and balanced Pinot
  7. 2014 Cabernet Franc- lots of dark fruit on this structured and bold wine, 30 months in French oak barrels, this wine showcases the noticeably hot and dry end to the 2014 harvest season
  8. Dolcina (NV)- Late harvest Riesling and Gewurztraminer, notes of honey, peaches, and nectarines on this dessert style wine

The two wines that we tasted that were not on the reserve tasting menu were:

  1. 2017 Estate Chardonnay- Sur lie aging style, French oak barrels, creamy notes of fig, pear, and melon
  2. GTR Field Blend (Gewurztraminer, Traminette, Riesling) (NV)- A beautifully done white field blend that we were able to taste from the barrel, stay tuned for more information on this fantastic wine

After our tasting, Sharko spent the time to show us around their updated production and storage facility. We are by no means experts in the wine industry, so we appreciate the time he spent with us providing us with valuable wine-related ‘nuggets’ of information. We learned about the toasting of various barrels that Alba utilizes and how to read the markings on each barrel. These are the types of valuable moments from winery visits that we look back on years later and will appreciate!

To end our tasting and tour experience with Sharko, he took us to their new outside seating area and patio to look out onto the vineyard, his bread and butter. Sharko oversees and manages the vineyard operations at Alba, and he sure knows his stuff. Being able to hear him describe each plot in the vineyard and share his passion for the land was an exhilarating experience. We appreciate Sharko spending the time to give us the tour of Alba and share his passion. He’s a busy man and we value the time he shared with us that afternoon.

We ended our experience with purchasing a total of three wines. The wines we left with were the 2017 Wedding Rock Chardonnay, the 2015 Pinot Noir, and the Dolcina dessert wine.

Have you been to Alba Vineyard before? If so, what’re your thoughts? If so, have you seen their new tasting room location? Send us your thoughts!

Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed

(Photo courtesy of Alba Vineyard)


The Winemakers Co-Op Spring Portfolio Tasting- 5/19/2019


We are excited to share with you our experience from The Winemakers Co-Op Spring Portfolio Tasting event that was held on Sunday, May 19 at Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery. The event features wines from the five wineries that make up The Winemakers Co-Op, which are:

  1. Beneduce Vineyards
  2. Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery
  3. Unionville Vineyards
  4. William Heritage Winery
  5. Working Dog Winery

From what we understand, The Winemakers Co-Op objective is to showcase high quality, NJ estate-grown, vinifera wines which will help establish New Jersey as a premier wine region in the United States. As lovers and supporters of all things local, our hope is that The Winemakers Co-Op will help alter the thought of, “Wine from New Jersey? Yuck! No thanks…” to “Do you have any locally-sourced New Jersey wines available?

The Portfolio Tasting events are held twice per year, one in the Spring and one in the Fall. As mentioned, the Spring event was held at Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery in Rio Grande, New Jersey. Holding the event in the beautiful beach resort region of Cape May County was an excellent idea. Nothing beats an afternoon of tasting delicious wines and being less than 20 minutes to the beach! The weather was extremely cooperative as well which made the day even more enjoyable.

The highlight of the Portfolio Tasting is that consumers have an opportunity to taste the next vintage of the Open Source Chardonnay produced by The Winemakers Co-Op. The Open Source Chardonnay is a collaborative project between all five wineries where they collect and mix Chardonnay grapes from each property and split into equal amounts to take back to their winery. Once back at their winery, each winemaker has free reign to age and perfect the Chardonnay however they’d like. This year, The Winemakers Co-Op showcased the 2017 vintage of the Open Source Chardonnay. The first vintage which will contain grapes from Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery is going to be 2018 due to them joining The Winemakers Co-Op after the 2017 vintage.

The tasting events run for four hours in total, with an extra hour allotted before the start of the event for a VIP showcase. The VIP showcase is hosted by each winemaker as they present their current vintage of the Open Source Chardonnay. The winemakers talk about how they aged their Chardonnay and each VIP participant has an opportunity to taste alongside each winemaker. Having the ability to hear the intimate details about each Chardonnay from the winemaker directly was such an exhilarating experience. The knowledge and expertise that gets shared during the VIP showcase is a must for anyone that is interested in knowing more about wine and where the New Jersey wine industry is heading.

If you did not have an opportunity to attend the event or taste the 2017 Open Source Chardonnay, most (if not all) of the wineries will have their versions available for purchase at their tasting rooms. Depending on availability, some may have sold out or have a limited batch left in stock after the event. Here are our thoughts and notes from the five Chardonnay’s tasted:

  1. Beneduce Vineyards: Aged in used neutral French oak barrels and aged on the lees (yeast sediment) which gives this wine a creamy mouthfeel. The wine has a weight to it, which provides a long finish. Low to medium acidity.
  2. Unionville Vineyards: Neutral acacia barrel for aging, stirred on the lees for five months. Did not allow the wine to go through malolactic fermentation so it has less of a creamy flavor and more fruit-forward notes.
  3. Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery: As mentioned above, did not have a 2017 vintage of the Open Source Chardonnay. Hawk Haven showcased their 2017 Signature Series Chardonnay (Clones 95 & 76). This is barrel fermented as well in neutral oak barrels (eight year old barrels, so oak flavor has diminished). No malolactic fermentation for this wine as well so the Chardonnay has fruit forward notes.
  4. Working Dog Winery: Aged in neutral four year old oak barrels. Stirred the wine weekly on the lees and allowed it to go through a slight malolactic fermentation, but stopped it while in process to avoid too much of a creamy flavor. This wine has lemon zesty notes.
  5. William Heritage Winery: Aged in neutral French oak barrels. Winemaker had a hands-off approach to the wine during barrel aging, so the wine did go through malolactic fermentation which gave this a slight creamier finish than some of the others.

As you may notice, all five of these wines are neutral barrel aged Chardonnay’s. To summarize the four Open Source Chardonnay’s, we felt that they had similar characteristics and consistencies (most likely due to the similar aging variables). In our opinion, the creamiest mouthfeel was from Beneduce Vineyards and the most fruit-forward notes were from both Unionville Vineyards and Working Dog Winery. All four were great wines that we recommend everyone try if you’re given the opportunity.

Outside of the Open Source Chardonnay release and tasting, the event provides an opportunity to taste over 40 NJ estate-grown wines from the five different wineries. An added benefit to these events is having the ability to taste high quality wines from each winery that are geographically dispersed throughout the state.

A bonus was having the opportunity to hear a presentation from Clark Smith, one of the most influential wine consultants based on details from intowine.com and Wine Business Monthly magazine. Having Smith attend and speak at the event means a lot to those in the New Jersey wine industry and speaks volumes to where our industry is going in the future.

What was our overall impression of this event? Coming from two people who typically dislike a wine-festival-like event, we could not recommend the Portfolio Tasting events enough! Our dislike for wine festivals stems from them being over-crowded and chaotic with attendees focused on the amount of drinking that can be done versus actually tasting the wines. The Winemakers Co-Op Portfolio Tasting events are far from those characteristics. The events are limited in seats and are themed around the quality of wines being poured instead of the quantity of wines being poured and consumed. We had a relaxing and educational experience and, in our usual fashion, left the event with a few handfuls of locally-sourced New Jersey wines.

We love having the opportunity to reconnect with and meet new lovers of New Jersey wine. We had the opportunity to spend time with old friends (Dan & Cookie, Dave & Carol, Kristen & Tom, Heather & Dan, and Robin) and meet a new friend (@TeamFentress). Great to see you all and looking forward to seeing you again soon!

Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed


Bellview Winery- 3/16/2019

We are coming to you today with a review that we are so excited to share! We had an opportunity to revisit Bellview Winery located in Landisville, NJ about two weeks ago. Bellview Winery opened in 2001 and has had vines planted for almost 20 years in South Jersey’s Outer Coastal Plain. They currently grow over 20 varietals on their estate and produce 24 different wines. With so many wines available, there’s something for everyone here!

Bellview Winery is conveniently located along the Atlantic City Expressway corridor about 45 minutes away from Philadelphia. For those making trips to the shore during the summer, we highly recommend making a quick pit stop and visiting Bellview Winery for a relaxing wine tasting experience.

Our trip to Bellview Winery was special because we had an opportunity to meet with Jim and Scott, Owners and Operators of Bellview Winery. We also met up with a few of our fellow New Jersey wine bloggers (some meeting for the first time!). Altogether, it made for an unforgettable experience filled with great, educational memories and delicious wines.

Once we arrived at the winery, Jim was gracious enough to take us on a private tour of the vineyard to see their property. Bellview Winery owns 150 acres of land and 40 acres are currently planted with vineyards. At the time of our visit, Bellview was in the process of pruning their vines for the start of the 2019 growing season. As we pulled into the vineyard to start our tour, we were joined by Jim’s son and grandpup, Scott and Mudkip. Jim and Scott walked us through their pruning practices and how they were preparing for the upcoming (and fast approaching) growing season. With 40 acres of vines to prune and each vine needing an individual approach, it is clear to see how much work goes into the vineyard even when the vines are dormant. As we continued our discussions about the vineyard, Mudkip, the spunky three year old border collie, kept us entertained by playing fetch with her favorite pruned vines! Her special responsibility is to keep the birds away from the grapes and she does a great job!

After finishing up our vineyard tour, we drove back to the tasting room where we had the opportunity to taste eight wines each. Below is what we tasted:

  1. 2017 Viognier- Dry white, peach notes, well balanced and smooth, Bellview recommends this white wine to those who solely drink red wines
  2. 2017 Gruner Veltliner- Bold acidity, fresh citrus notes, our favorite of the day, won Best Of Class from the San Francisco Chronicle
  3. 2017 Chardonnay- Blend of oaked and stainless steel aged, has a combination of both apples and buttery notes, won a Silver Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle
  4. 2016 Chambourcin- Dark red wine, medium bodied, earthy notes, Bronze at San Francisco Chronicle
  5. 2015 Coeur d’Est- Stands for “Heart of the East,” blend of 35% Chambourcin, 30% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, full bodied red wine blend, designed to showcase the grape varietals that thrive in the Outer Coastal Plain AVA
  6. 2016 Blaufrankisch- Dark plum notes, medium to full body
  7. 2016 Cabernet Franc- Cherry notes, medium body, Bronze at San Francisco Chronicle
  8. 2014 Petit Verdot- Bold black cherry and spice notes, full body, medium to high tannins

After we finished up our tasting, Jim and Scott took us onto the crush pad and into their production facility to see where the magic happens after harvesting the grapes each season. We were all so impressed with Bellview’s operations and expertise. For being open to the public for 18 years, Bellview has developed a history and cult following in the New Jersey wine scene. Even though Bellview has more tenure in comparison to many other wineries in New Jersey, 18 years is a relatively short amount of time compared to other national and international wine growing regions. For only being open 18 short years, Bellview Winery has hit the ground running and developed a solid operation and continues to deliver an exceptional customer experience through knowledgeable staff and high quality wines.

We loved everything that we tasted, but our favorites were their 2017 Viognier, Gruner Veltliner, and Chardonnay wines. We opted to purchase these three as we were packing up to leave. Next time we go, we want to try out some of their wines on tap and possibly purchase a growler or two to go.

Bellview Winery has developed a short, fun, and informational video showcasing their solid operations and dedication to amazing wines and a great customer experience. Click here to watch the video > Bellview Overview Video (Facebook)

We hope you enjoyed our review of Bellview Winery and that you will plan to stop by for a tasting. Check out our Instagram page for some fun photos and videos from our visit to Bellview. Well, wine is calling, we must go! Cheers!

Nick & Ed

P.S. A special thanks to Heather and Dan (@NJWineGirl) & Kristen and Tom (@The_Wine_Adventurists) for helping to coordinate this trip and meeting up with us! Congratulations to Kristen and Tom for finishing up their NJ Wine Passports which give them the chance to win a once in a lifetime wine vacation. A huge congratulations to Heather and Dan for closing on a property in which they plan to start and open their own vineyard and winery in the upcoming years. We look forward to following your future success!

Logan’s Red- Small production wine from Pennington, NJ

Good evening, lovers of NJ wine! We have an exciting review for you today. We are going to be showcasing a newcomer to the NJ wine scene from Pennington, Logan’s Red.

Logan’s Red is owned and operated by winemaker, Sal Mannino. We had the pleasure of having dinner with Sal in Flemington, NJ while he showcased his library of wine offerings on January 25. Currently to our knowledge, Logan’s Red is not available to the public, but you are welcome to contact Sal directly through Instagram (@LogansRedWine) to learn more about his wines.

Our dinner was at the lovely Dolce Restaurant in Flemington. I enjoyed the Tortellini Carbonara, Ed ordered the Rigatoni Dolce in a blush sauce, and Sal enjoyed an Ahi Tuna entree. All of our entrees were beautifully paired with the following wines from Logan’s Red:

  1. 2016 Orange Malvasia- We LOVE an orange style wine, and this one was fantastic, medium bodied and light/medium acidity, notes of citrus, apples and pears
  2. 2016 Garnacha Rose- Notes of tart fruits like grapefruit and some strawberries and peaches, beautiful strawberry color, dry and medium to high in acidity, would go well with many different seafood dishes
  3. 2017 Vortex Red Blend- Blend of garnacha, nebbiolo, montepulciano, and mourvedre (the four single varietals we tasted last individually), medium to fuller bodied red, notes of berries and vanilla, very well balanced and food friendly red, would pair well with pizzas, pastas, red meats
  4. 2015 Pinot Noir- A medium body on this pinot, earthy notes, vanilla, and some cherries, a nice balanced pinot
  5. 2015 Nebbiolo- Beautiful, balanced, and bold red wine, deep color, Italian varietal that you do not see much of in NJ, so smooth that Ed was shocked there was any alcohol in this one (and believe us, there is!)
  6. 2016 Garnacha- Light body red that has balanced acidity and tannins, red fruit notes of cranberries and strawberries
  7. 2016 Montepulciano- One of the grapes that we enjoyed that we have never heard of before, medium bodied red, balanced in acidity and tannins, notes of cherries
  8. 2015 Mourvedre- Fuller bodied red, high in tannins and medium to high in acidity, another grape that we were unfamiliar with, the fuller body in this one made it a great wine to end the tasting and dinner, notes of blue and blackberries

Sal uses concrete egg vessels to age the majority of his wines which adds an incredibly smooth and rich mouthfeel and body. After doing some research after our meeting, we came to find out that the egg shape of the vessels allows for constant circulation of the wine. This allows for the wine to have a consistent texture and body throughout the entire batch. The material used to construct the egg vessels allows for natural insulation as well. This process for wine making was once considered ineffective and no longer relevant. It is now starting to gain popularity again as winemakers are experimenting with the egg vessels again.

If we had to describe Logan’s Red wines in one word, it would be “wow.” When I tell you that we were shocked, that is an understatement. Sal’s wines are on par with some of the best that we’ve tasted throughout our NJ wine visits. We expected and were hoping that his wine would be good, but we had no expectation that they would be as excellent as they are. Sal has gained a lot of experience throughout different wine regions and it shows in his understanding and execution of his wines. Truly a skilled winemaker that we hope everyone can experience soon.



Our favorite wines for the evening were the Orange Malvasia, Vortex, Pinot Noir, and Nebbiolo. We were fortunate enough to be able to take the Orange Malvasia, Garnacha Rose, Tempranillo (did not taste), and a Sangiovese (did not taste) home with us to enjoy and try on our own.

Thank you to Dolce Restaurant in Flemington for your hospitality and a HUGE thank you to Sal Mannino and Logan’s Red for the invitation and consideration. We appreciate having the opportunity to taste, enjoy, and review the wines in your library. We wish you much success as you continue to grow and develop this brand and look forward to seeing what’s next!

Let us know if you have any questions or thoughts around these wines or Logan’s Red. We are sure that Sal would be happy to answer any that we cannot!

Wine is calling, friends. We must go. Cheers!

Nick & Ed

Unionville Vineyards Grand Tasting- 12/29/2018

Hey there, NJ wine lovers! It’s been awhile since we’ve written a formal review on our site, so apologies for that. We spent the month of January posting daily wine reviews on our Instagram page, so if you haven’t checked that out, please do! There’s 31 detailed wine features from NJ vineyards on our page to see throughout the month of January.

Back before the end of the year, we scheduled time to have a Grand Tasting at Unionville Vineyards with their General Manager, John Cifelli (Certified Sommelier). On their site, they describe their Grand Tastings as the “pinnacle of tasting experiences in New Jersey.” Clearly, we had to check it out for ourselves!

Our tasting began at 12:30pm on Saturday, December 29. We arrived a little early and got to spend some time hanging out with Festival, Unionville’s lovable cat that lives at the winery. Festival’s story is a heart-tugging “rags to riches” story where he showed up at the winery during a festival and decided to stick around for good. He’s receives lots of love and food (cheese is his favorite) from customers throughout each day. He truly has the life, now!

John met us upstairs in the tasting room to review the different vineyards that Unionville owns and operates in the area. There are a total of four vineyard sites:

  1. Unionville Home- First vineyard site and located on the same property as the winery. Varietals grown are a mixture of French-American hybrids and European vinifera grapes.
  2. Amwell Ridge- Located across the way from the winery, this plot houses the Rhone varieties that Unionville grows.
  3. Pheasant Hill- Located in Hopewell, produces the high quality single-vineyard Pheasant Hill Chardonnay as well various clones of Pinot Noir and other varieties.
  4. Coventry Farm- Located in Princeton, this is the newest vineyard for Unionville with yields expected in the next two years or so.

We then took a tour through Unionville’s crush pad and fermentation and storage areas which gave us a behind the scenes glimpse into their operations. We heard about some great things to come and were able to peak into some 2018 Chambourcin that was still fermenting in the barrel (we believe for the Port, but do not have it in our notes so cannot say we are 100% sure).

Now for the good stuff- the Grand Tasting itself! We went to the farm house to enjoy our private tasting with John and were greeted with customized tasting menus (with our names on them!). What a great touch. Included in the tasting was the following:

  1. 2015 Dry Riesling
  2. 2013 + 2015 Pheasant Hill Chardonnay comparison (paired with Trillium pasteurized cow’s milk and Oomami raw cow’s milk cheeses)
  3. 2013 + 2015 Home Vineyard Chardonnay comparison (same cheese pairings as above)
  4. 2016 Mistral Blanc (paired with Shepherd’s Basket raw sheep’s milk and Cirone raw aged cow’s milk cheeses)
  5. The Big O Tasting Flight (2010, 2013, 2014) (paired with Midnight Moon pasteurized goat’s milk, Moliterno raw seep’s milk, and Cabrichamre raw goat’s milk cheeses)
  6. Port Vat #24 Port (paired with Maytag Blue raw cow’s milk cheese)

John curated the various cheeses called out above for each of the wine pairings. He also provided different meats, bread, olives, dried apricots, and fig jam to pair with the wines as well.

The highlight of the tasting was the comparison tastes of the two different single vineyard Chardonnay’s (2013 vs. 2015 for each vineyard) and the vertical flight of The Big O (2010, 2013, and 2014). Our favorite Chardonnay from the four was the 2013 Pheasant Hill Chardonnay which was well balanced in the fruit notes and its acidity. The 2015 is delicious as well with more robust citrus notes in comparison. Two extra years in the bottle makes the 2013 a showstopper right about now. We look forward to saving one of our 2015 Pheasant Hill Chardonnay bottles to age for a few years to see its potential!

The Big O vertical flight was the other highlight of our grand tasting with John. This is Unionville’s Bordeaux style wine blend. We were able to taste three different vintages of The Big O- 2013, 2014, and 2010 (in that order). 2010 is the boldest of the three, so it was recommended to taste that one last to avoid overpowering our palates for the others. The 2010 was one of the best years for The Big O at Unionville with lots of dry heat during the growing season (closest growing season to CA). This vintage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. So smooth and balanced; we get strong fruit notes like ripe cherries and blackberries. This blend is bold and dry and we believe it will continue to age well in the bottle for more years to come. The coolest touch is that the wine does not have labels and the name and vintage are handwritten. Such a unique touch!

The final taste of the day was the Port Vat #24. This wine is fortified with brandy to bring the ABV to 18.5%. This dessert wine is bold and with notes of dark chocolate. You get a warming or ‘hot’ sensation on the nose with this Port. I’m not the biggest fan of Port wines historically, but this one is well-balanced and would go really well at the end of the evening.

We opted to purchase The Big O from 2010 and the 2013 Pheasant Hill Chardonnay to take home. We were also able to sit and enjoy a glass of the 2013 Pheasant Hill Chardonnay in the farm house before heading home after our Grand Tasting ended. The overall experience was around three hours and very well worth it. The price was $80/person, which seems a bit high for a wine tasting, but don’t let the price turn you away. We can assure you that the price is well justified given the amount of wine and food available to you over the three hour experience. We learned so much from John about Unionville’s past and future and feel even more connected to the winery than before. We enjoyed the experience so much that we look forward to doing it again in the next few years.

Have you been to Unionville Vineyards before? Tried their Grand Tasting? Let us know what you think! Would you opt to have this experience?

Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed

Hopewell Valley Vineyards- 12/26/2018

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to all!

We are coming to you today with a review of Hopewell Valley Vineyards (HVV). HVV is located in Pennington, NJ (15 minutes west of Princeton). We stopped by for an impromptu tasting after another local winery was closed for the day. We have been to HVV many times before as it is fairly close to our home. Even after visiting many times before, we still fell in love with some new wines at this beautiful winery!

There are two options for tastings at HVV. You are able to choose up to six wines for $6 or up to ten wines for $10. Your tasting fee includes the souvenir glass as well. We opted to taste six wines each for $6/person.

Their tasting menu offers Dry Whites and Roses, Dry Reds, Dessert, Sparkling, and the Vitner’s Collection Dry Reds. In total, there are up to 21 different wines available for tasting at HVV. During our trip on 12/26, the Sangiovese Riserva was not available (and there is the possibility that it will not be available in the future).

Each wine has a classification listed underneath it on their tasting menu. The three classifications are Estate Grown, Estate Fermented, and Estate Cellared. From our recollection, Estate Grown wines are ones that HVV grows in their own vineyard. Estate Fermented wines are wines that HVV purchases the unfermented juice from outside sources (either domestically or internationally). HVV then ferments the juice into wine and cellars it on their property. If a wine is listed as Estate Cellared, HVV purchases the already fermented juice (wine) from an outside source and cellars it for aging on their property.

Depending on the classification above, each wine is grouped into a different brand label. Their wines that are Estate Grown and some of the Estate Fermented will fall under their Hopewell Valley Vineyards brand label. If a wine is listed as Estate Cellared, it will be listed under their Villa Neri brand label. All of their Vitner’s Collection Dry Reds will fall under their Villa Neri label, which includes some of the Estate Fermented wines as well.

Now that we have that background info out of the way, time to get to the ‘juicy’ stuff (get it?). We tasted the following wines during our tasting:

  1. Chardonnay- Estate Grown, 2016 vintage, spent ten months in a used french oak barrels, very light on the oak and the fruit flavors still shine through, medium-bodied dry white with some notes of pear and apple
  2. Stony Brook Blush- Estate Grown, 80/20 blend of Chambourcin grapes and Vidal Blanc grapes, this is a blush and not a rose, considered an off-dry because there is a small amount of residual sugar left, we got notes of strawberry on this one, a bit sweeter than we like
  3. Vidal Blanc- Estate Grown, lighter in body and higher in acidity than the Chardonnay, also considered an off-dry due to some small amounts of residual sugar, we got notes of minerality from this one, possibly due to the soil type in the area
  4. Chambourcin- Estate Grown, 2015 vintage, has some small traces of iron on the palate, fruit notes as well like cherry and raspberry, off-dry, interesting fact is that the 2015 vintage will vary based on the bottle you purchase. Some have been aging longer in large oak barrels because it is bottled as it is needed
  5. Sangiovese- Estate Cellared, dry, balanced and medium-bodied, the acidity is noticeable on this, robust Tuscan style wine
  6. Spumante Secco- Estate Cellared, prosecco style, light and off-dry, clean finish
  7. Basia- Estate Fermented, 2009 vintage, Brunnello style red, dry, made with Sangiovese grapes and aged for three years in barrel and bottle before releasing, intense cherry and mineral flavors, grapes grown in CA

We left with three bottles (Chardonnay, Spumante Secco, and Basia). We’ve had the Chardonnay and the Spumante Secco many times before, but are new fans to the Basia. To our recollection, we have not tried this wine in the past. This is an age-worthy, bold, Tuscan-style red that we look forward to sharing over a nice tomato-based Italian meal.

This was a great trip to HVV. We had an opportunity to taste at their upper-level tasting bar for the first time. We had a one-on-one experience with the tasting associate that day, which made for an educational and memorable time.

See below for our overall rating of Hopewell Valley Vineyards. Have you been before? Let us know your thoughts! Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed


Finger Lakes (FLX) 2018 Trip

Finger Lakes map

Happy Sunday, wine lovers! We are excited to share our Finger Lakes (FLX) vacation experiences with you.

We visited the FLX from December 5 – December 9, 2018. Although it is a snowy and cold time of year to visit anywhere in upstate NY, we are so happy with our choice. If you love a nice, calm experience during your wine tastings, this is the best time of year to vacation in the FLX. We visited a total of 24 wineries during our trip and 90% of those tastings consisted of just us and the wine tasting associate. Having the time to chat one-on-one with the experts at each winery made our vacation much more educational and engaging.

If you do decide to vacation in the FLX during this time of year, pay close attention to off-season hours for the wineries. We received recommendations to do the same, but still experienced a few locations that were not open and their hours were not 100% accurate on their website.

We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Penn Yan, NY during our trip. The hotel seems to be on the newer side and the staff were all friendly. There were only a few couples/families staying at the hotel as well, so the experience was very relaxing and calm. For anyone unfamiliar with a Hampton Inn, the breakfast is complimentary and we enjoyed the offerings that were available. Staying in Penn Yan was somewhat convenient for visiting the wineries at each lake. The one lake that was more difficult to get to from Penn Yan was Cayuga Lake. There does not seem to be a convenient route, unfortunately.

As mentioned above, we were able to visit and experience a total of 24 wineries during our trip. We did not get to visit all of the wineries on our wish list, unfortunately. The one winery that we wish we could have visited was Heart and Hands. This was at the top of our wish list, but we ran out of time on our last day. We will definitely visit on our next trip!

See below for our notes from each winery. Please keep in mind that our experiences may differ from your own if you have visited or plan to visit in the future. Experiences will vary greatly depending on the associate working, other customers, palate, etc. Those marked with a ‘Yes’ under ‘Recommend?’ are considered our favorites. If one has a ‘Maybe,’ we we would revisit if we have extra time available. If a winery has a ‘No,’ that means we would not revisit on our next trip to the FLX.


Some great food options we experienced during our trip were Ports Cafe, FLX Wienery, Silverbird Woodfired (great and quick bar food in Penn Yan, bit of a dive bar atmosphere), and Top of the Lake (right next to our hotel).

All in all, we enjoyed our vacation to the FLX very much. We came home with a total of 60 bottles (yes, 60!). We highly recommend you visit if you have not done so before. Please let us know if you have any questions or need any recommendations. We have made a few friends that are much more experienced with the FLX winery trails that may be a helpful resource as well! A huge shout out to both Terroir Twosome and Wino_Dino_ on Instagram who were helpful in us planning our trip!

Have you been to the FLX before? Have any favorites not mentioned on our list? Let us know!

Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed

Finger Lakes Trip

The NJ Winery Reviewers are excited to announce that we will be heading to the Finger Lakes, NY this week! We have planned a trip filled with great wine and great food. We cannot wait to document our trip and bring back some great recommendations for you!

We will be visiting the Finger Lakes from Wednesday – Sunday of this week. While there, we plan to visit the following places (if time permits):

Winery Name
Americana Vineyards
Anthony Road Wine Company
Billsboro Winery
Bloomer Creek Vineyard
Fox Run Vineyards
Dr. Konstantin Frank
Fulkerson Winery
Glenora Wine Cellars
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards
Hermann J. Winemer Vineyards
Heron Hill Winery
Hosmer Winery
Keuka Lake Vineyards
Lamoreaux Landing Winery
McGregor Vineyard
Ravines Wine Cellar
Red Newt Cellars
Sheldrake Point
Shepherdess Cellars
Wagner Vineyards

*If time permits, we would also like to visit Magnus Ridge Winery, Belhurt Castle and Winery, Miles Wine Cellars, and Hearts and Hands Winery.

With so many wineries in the Finger Lakes, we narrowed it down to this list from articles and recommendations from friends and fellow bloggers. We will do our best to take copious notes and bring back the best of this recommended list!

See below for the map of this list (did our best to color code the wineries by location). The yellow locations are the few we will visit if we have time available.

Thank you for visiting our page! Come back over the next few weeks for a recap of our trip.

Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed


Wine Club Memberships- An Overview

Good Evening, Wine Lovers!

We come to you on the night of the first snowfall of Fall/Winter 2018. So therefore, we are snowed-in and figured we would write a post!

We thought it would be helpful to write a post about our experiences with various Wine Club Memberships throughout New Jersey (and one in NY). With our experiences, we thought we could make recommendations on the best ones to join (based on the benefits). See below for a list of our current Wine Club Memberships:

  1. William Heritage Winery (Quarterly shipments)
  2. White Horse Winery (Tri-annual shipments)
  3. Sharrott Winery (Quarterly shipments)
  4. Amalthea Cellars (No wine shipments)
  5. Hawk Haven Winery (No wine shipments)
  6. Tomasello Winery (No wine shipments)
  7. Mount Salem Vineyards (Quarterly shipments)
  8. Unionville Vineyards (Quarterly shipments)
  9. Bedell Cellars (Quarterly shipments) (NY)

Some of these memberships do not require commitments or wine shipments (quarterly or tri-annually). Our current memberships that fall under this category are Amalthea Cellars, Hawk Haven Winery, and Tomasello Winery. Amalthea Cellars and Tomasello Winery require a fee to join their wine club and you receive benefits (discounts, wine-related gifts, etc). Hawk Haven Winery required a total purchase price of $300 in wine in a single transaction for an annual membership into their club. With their club, you get many free tastings (both regular and premium). From this set of Wine Club Memberships, we highly recommend the Hawk Haven Winery club. If you find yourself visiting the Cape May area throughout year, the free tastings make this wine club valuable!

The other six memberships that we belong to require wine purchases/shipments throughout the year (both quarterly or tri-annually). These memberships include William Heritage Winery, White Horse Winery, Sharrott Winery, Mount Salem Vineyards, Unionville Vineyards, and Bedell Cellars. From these, our favorite would have to be William Heritage Winery. The benefits of joining their wine club are extremely valuable. You receive free tastings to William Heritage Winery as a member (all of the time). The remaining wineries on this list either give you a limited number of free tastings or none at all. We understand that free tastings will cut into a winery’s gross profit, but William Heritage Winery really knows how to make you feel like a VIP. Oh, and their staff has actually gotten to know us (is that bad?). They will truly make you feel special if you join their wine club.

*Update– We found out that the membership at Unionville Vineyards will give you free tastings every time you visit (similar to the membership benefits at William Heritage Winery).

Through our experiences, we truly feel that the Wine Club Memberships all provide their own type of value to a consumer. The majority do not require a fee and your only costs are purchasing wine throughout the year. Those wines do tend to be discounted, which is a huge plus. The benefit to the winery owner is that they have a guaranteed group of consumers that are committed to purchasing their wines. It’s nice when the winery owner is kind enough to pass that valued benefit along to us, the consumer!

We highly recommend that you join at least one Wine Club Membership throughout New Jersey. You are helping to guarantee the success of a local business owner! We do not plan on cancelling any of the local memberships that we are currently signed up for. We love to #supportlocal ! Let us know if you are involved in any memberships and what you think of them. We are dying to hear!

Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed