It’s been a couple weeks since the last grapes were picked and plucked in New Jersey. The frosts in mid-October did no damage to the fruit that was hanging, but essentially kills the canopy of foliage, halting any additional photosynthesis and ripening of the fruit. Now the grapes have been pressed and fermented, lying in tank or barrel, slowly evolving into what could be the best vintage in years for the Garden State. The long stretches of warm and dry weather in August and September were simply ideal, some of the best growing conditions that the East Coast is capable of. The wines will be barrel tasted and blended over the next 6 to 24 months, and then we will know for sure just how great this year’s crop exactly was. Here’s some notes from winemakers and grape growers around the state:

Jim Quarella, Bellview Winery (Atlantic): Early on this growing
season was very rainy and wet, but we managed to keep our vines healthy. Later on in the summer it dried up and was perfect for maturing
grapes. Harvest started off the last week in August with our native American
varieties which bore much more than in previous years. almost twice as much for
some! With the same maturity and quality we usually experience, but double the
yield, this year was a superb one for native varieties. The natives were
quickly followed by Gruner Veltliner, Regent, Pinot Grigio, Traminette and
Chardonnay. One after another they ripened and were ready for harvest. Things
happened very quickly in the winery this year as fermentations finished tanks
were cleaned and quickly filled again with freshly picked grapes. By late
September harvest was winding down with Blaufrankisch, Chambourcin, Vidal, and
Petit Verdot coming off the vine. Overall this year was an excellent year for
growing grapes and will surely produce some excellent wines.

Michael Beneduce, Beneduce Vineyards (Hunterdon) The 2015 vintage is perhaps
the best in a string of excellent years in NJ since 2012.  The growing
season was warm and dry, with little to no pressure from disease or
birds.  Harvest started nearly two weeks earlier than last year, but the
warm, dry weather continued until mid October, allowing extra hang time to
fully develop flavors in the later-ripening red varieties.  The wines are
showing excellent concentration and color, with supple tannins and well
balanced acidity and alcohol.  Flavors and aromas are on the riper end of
the spectrum, with whites leaning towards more tropical fruits and reds taking
on dark red and black fruit characteristics.  Yields were also about 15%
above average. (Photo- Beneduce Vineyards Gewurtztramier)

Larry Sharrott III, Sharrott Winery (Camden) The exceptional summer
weather here in South Jersey – hot, but not too hot, and dry at just the right
time – has led to a great wine year at Sharrott Winery. The French say that
‘August makes the flavor’, and we had perfect conditions this August for
increased yield and more concentrated flavors. We look forward to the release
of our 2015 vintage, the promise of great wines to come!

Kenton Nice, Coda Rossa Winery (Gloucester) 

was proud to report that Harvest 2015 was a
winemaker’s success!  We got a good yield from a nice growing season. Our
vines produced some wonderful flavors and good sugar content in the grapes.
Michael D’Auria, our Winemaker reported that it’s the best he’s seen in 4-5
years. We are excited about the delicious wines yet to be born from this
harvest!

Ollie Tomasello, Plagido’s WInery (Atlantic) We are very enthusiastic
about the Quality of our grapes this growing season.  We had an early
bloom, which gave us a longer growing time and our area had a cool, dry end to
the season.  We got some of the best looking grapes we have ever seen,
this is going to be reminiscent to the 2010 growing season.  We have had a
very successful year, which led to a great harvest,  and this will be one
of the best vintage years by far.  Watch for our 2015 releases.  (Photo- Plagido’s Winery Chardonnay)

Mark Carduner, Working Dog Winery (Mercer) Our 2015 harvest began with the picking of
Pinot Gris on September 4th, and culminated with bringing in the
last of the Chambourcin on October 22nd.   In total, 90,000 pounds of pristine grapes
were harvested – half red, half white.
Cabernet Franc at 12 tons was our largest production, and the Chardonnay
looks especially amazing!  The vineyard
fortunately missed hurricane rains and many local storms, leaving us with
clean, impeccable fruit which should produce a very fine vintage….At first
glance, another 2010.

Craig Donofrio, Four JG’s Orchards We are
pleased that this year’s vintage is extremely promising.  Following the warm, dry conditions of July
and August, picking began early.  During
harvest, we enjoyed sunny days and fresh cool nights with perfect conditions
for the grapes. From initial analysis the young wines look to
be of excellent quality with deep color and lovely fruit aromas. (Photo- Craig Donofrio with Cabernet Franc)

© 2017 Garden State Wine Growers Association Supported in part by a grant from the NJ Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism
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