There is nothing more quintessentially American summer than BBQing or grilling out. This summer of lockdown lifts and lockdown walk-backs have made BBQs outside with small groups of friends feel especially necessary.
Around here, cooking meat, seafood, starches, and veggies low and slow over indirect heat, and then saucing them up makes us extra thirsty. And while we’re not going to claim that the Garden State has a grand BBQ tradition (we don’t want a horde of angry Kansas, Tennessee, Texas and Carolina sauce-slingers showing up at our door), we will say that our state’s amazing array of produce, meat and poultry farms creates some delicious material for grilling.
Our winemakers agree. We reached out to several winemakers who shared their favorite ways to pair food cooked on the barbecue and wine.
Old York Cellars, Ringoes, Central Region
Old York Cellars offers the full Garden State wine experience. Set among some of the oldest working vineyards in New Jersey, Old York is itself a working farm owned by people who play as hard as they work.
The winery has become a draw not only for its award-winning wines, but also its seasonal food and wine festivals, music series, comedy nights and special tasting experiences. Old York’s in-house chef, José Diaz, whips up farm-to-table creations sourced from neighboring farms to pair with their wines. We asked winemaker Scott Gares what he grabs when he heads to a BBQ.
“My wife and I like our Vidal Blanc in the summer,” Gares says. “It’s fresh and clean, with body, and we’ve found it pairs great with seafood on the grill. The crisp character of the Vidal also pairs with summer salads.”
Scott’s Seafood Grill
● 1 each red, yellow and green peppers
● ½ yellow onion
● 1 pound each shelled scallops and shrimp
● Butter to taste (4-6 TBSP)
● 1 clove garlic, chopped
● Onion powder
● Salt and Pepper, to taste
● 1/2 cup Vidal Blanc, or to taste
1. Fire up the BBQ.
2. Cut up the red, yellow, and green peppers, along with the onion, and put in a heat-safe dish.
3. Add the scallops and shrimp, several pads of butter, the garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
4. Pour Vidal Blanc over the top to cover half the depth.
5. Put on the grill and allow to simmer.
6. Check after 10 minutes for doneness and keep it on the grill until the fish is cooked through.
Brook Hollow Winery, Columbia, Northern Region
Brook Hollow Winery is a family-owned farm winery that overlooks the Delaware Water Gap in Warren County. Founded in 2006 as a small side project by winemaker and owner Paul Ritter, his wife Debbie, and their three daughters Stefanie, Alyssa and Jessica, the hobby quickly morphed into a full-blown second career when Ritter retired from his job as a wildlife biologist.
Now, the 10-acre farm also includes a state-of-the-art winery, which was opened in 2013. Ritter is focused on creating dry table wines that evoke the distinct terroir of his estate, but he doesn’t shy away from the occasional sweet wine or slushie either. (The Chocolate Merlot Milkshake is one of the winery’s top-sellers in the summer).
Ritter tells us that when he has a hankering for BBQ, he reaches for his Cabernet Franc or Frontenac Noire.
“The Cabernet Franc is a classic big bold red, with a slightly pepper finish,” he says. “It pairs well with BBQ sauces that are full-flavored and finish on the peppers, not sweet side. It can definitely stand up to big BBQ sauce and roasted meats.”
The Frontenac Noire, meanwhile, “is a very fruity red that finishes dry due to the grape’s high acidity level. This one pairs well with any BBQ sauce that would finish somewhat on the sweet side.”
For a great, easy to make, just-this-side-of-sweet recipe, check out All Recipe’s take on BBQ Sauce.
Jessie Creek Winery, Cape May Courthouse, Southern Region 3
Located in Cape May Courthouse, Jessie Creek is a boutique winery, inspired by the boutique wineries of Napa, which makes small batch wines completely by hand. Visitors to the winery not only enjoy the estate wines grown from grapes planted on the winery’s five acres but they can also tour the art gallery on premise where local artists showcase their work.
Visitors to Cape May Courthouse can stay at Jessie Creek’s Inn, a historic farmhouse on the estate with views of the vineyard. The five private rooms of the Inn provide a peaceful escape for those who spend their days at the bustling shore towns near the winery.
Owner Bruce Morrison has a couple of wines that he says are naturals for foods that come off the grill.
“I love the Cabernet Reserve with steak on the grill,” Morrison says. “And, for chicken or pork, I’d open Chardonnay.”
DiBella Winery, Woolwich Twp, Southern Region 2
This small family friendly winery in Woolwich Twp. that’s open to the public on Friday and Saturday. Located on a fourth-generation family farm that’s grown fruit trees, vegetables and grain throughout the years, the family added grapes to the farm in 2002.
Run by husband-and-wife team Julie and Will DiBella, they’re pretty busy taking care of all that’s necessary to run a small winery plus their two young daughters. But there’s always time for food and wine.
“Our DiBella White would go great with grilled salmon,” says Julie DiBella. The semi-sweet blend of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Cayuga would be fantastic with this simple 15-Minute Grilled Salmon. Tip: Use skin on salmon because it helps hold the salmon together as it cooks on the grill grate.