willow creek winery

Garden State Wineries That Take Grilling Season As Seriously As You Do

We are at the peak of grilling season right now: whether you prefer traditional hot dogs, tofu dogs, shrimp kabobs or center-cut chops, fire-licked food is on the menu. And thankfully, so is wine.

While bold red wines with a high fruit factor often make for the most successful pairings with grilled and smoked food, don’t dismiss other options out of hand. If you’re focusing on lighter fishes, poultry or veggies, chillable and bright reds, rosés and whites will work beautifully too.

Whether you want to fire up your own grill or have someone else take over tong duty for you, we have your pairings covered. Read on for the best ways to match strong BBQ flavors with Garden State wines at one of New Jersey’s estate vineyards, or right in the comfort of your own backyard.

Willow Creek Winery Farm-To-Grill Menu Is On

Cape May’s Willow Creek Winery is all about pairing wine and food, with a special flair for grilled goodies.

The new farm to grill menu offers a range of options, but a consistent summer favorite is the honey-mango 16-hour slow-cooked pulled pork, served on a pretzel roll with fries and coleslaw. The house favorite is probably the smash burger though, with two black Angus smashed with onions and topped with cheddar and house mac sauce on butter-toasted brioche.

Both would work with the house Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, as they are fruit-forward and classic red wines that can stand up to the umami, flavor, spice and smoke of the dishes.

While you’re there, check out the 50-acre vineyard with a distinct microclimate reminiscent of Bordeaux, thanks to the range of soils and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Bay.

Beneduce Vineyards Has Group Therapy (With Food)

We could all use therapy—especially Beneduce Vineyards’ style!.

Every Saturday in the summer, Beneduce offers a communal stress detox with wine, live music, lawn games and fantastic food from a rotating list of all-star food trucks.

It’s adult-only, and reservations are recommended. The food trucks rotate, but gear up for great offerings from the likes of Swampy Vale Farm and El Molcajete, with classic carne asada, barbacoa, pollo and carne molida.

Pair the hearty, spicy flavors with Beneduce’s Blaufrankisch—complex and brooding, described by the winemaker as a bodybuilder in ballet shoes.

Renault Winery’s Fire Pit Beckons

The Renault Wine & Beer Garden, adjacent to Renault’s stunning French-inspired gardens, is the laid-back dining experience summer calls for.

They have great snacky bites (Bavarian pretzels, short rib waffle fries, crab & avo toast), alongside grilled classics like salmon and New York strip. Either one will pair well with their incredible spicy, full-bodied, fruit-forward Cabernet Franc. Save room for dessert (try the Tuxedo Crème Brulee, with layered chocolate ganache and creamy custard) paired with their opulent port.

Consider grabbing a seat at either the Patio or Stage Fire Pit over the weekend, for a front-row seat to live music and fun.

At-Home Wine & Grill Pairings

Some home BBQ pros simply can’t relinquish the tongs. If no one’s grillin’ chops can match yours, but you need some wine-pairing tips, we have an in-depth Garden State guide for you here.

For Spicy Pork Pairings: Snag Auburn Road Vineyards’ Give Peach a Chance. The fresh and juicy white wine, made from sweet Jersey peaches, offsets the spice and fat of your fieriest pork dishes.

For Smoked Ribs: Smoky ribs or brisket on the menu? Tap Bellview Winery’s Chambourcin. The medium-bodied bright, lightly structured red features scents of thyme and black cherry that offset the smoky, umami richness of the meats.

For Steak: If you’re grilling up steaks, reach for DiMatteo Vineyards’ Jersey Red. A full-bodied Old World style red, the fruit-forward bold flavors pair seamlessly with grilled steak.

For Hearty Fish: If you’re grilling up a serious fish steak—salmon, tuna or another fatty fish—reach for a Pinot Gris from Old York Cellars. The crisp, nuanced wine shows notes of spring flowers and tropical fruits, and its off-dry style can stand up to rich seafood.

For Sweet BBQ: Got some North Carolina or Memphis-style BBQ plans in your future? Sharrott Winery’s Dry Riesling has just a hint of sweetness along with gorgeous flower aromas, ripe stone fruit, and mouth-watering acidity—perfect to offset the spice and vinegar of sweeter BBQ styles.

© 2024 Garden State Wine Growers Association Supported in part by a grant from the NJ Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism
Created by IGM Creative Group
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