Wine Tours at Top New Jersey Vineyards
When it comes to quality wineries, what is the most important factor for consumers? Vander Plaat Limos wants to help our clientele answer this question with ease.
Whether you are interested in a vineyard for its awards, amenities, or pleasing atmosphere, Vander Plaat’s wine tours are catered specifically to your group. This means that no matter the size or concerns of your party, we are able to provide a luxury wine tour that meets and exceeds your expectations. Vander Plaat Limo will arrange your party's reservations for and transportation to each winery.
In addition to the packaged wine tours we have available (link to tours on blog), the following vineyards and wineries each have their own ambience and atmosphere that we believe you would love to gather your friends and spend an afternoon exploring.
For the overall winery experience, Alba Vineyards gets top billing.
Open since 1982, Alba is not only New Jersey’s largest vineyard, but it also just won the Winery of the Year for 2013. Just last year, wine critic Hugh Johnson included Alba in his prestigious Pocket Wine Book, calling it a “leading estate” of New Jersey. Likewise in 2013, American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United States, a book by international wine reviewers Jancis Robinson and Linda Murphy, claimed that Alba was a “superstar” of the East Coast.
Locals know these accolades are due to Alba’s excellence in service and quality products. Aggregated wine critic ratings show Alba as the number one ranked producer of red wine, predominantly for high scores on its 2011 Chambourcin and 2010 Heritage. The vineyard is also ranked number three for its white wine, including its award-winning 2012 Dry Riesling and 2012 Gewurztraminer.
Affordability is not an issue either, with wines starting at only $9 and tastings from $10. Reservations are not required for groups of five people or less. Private tours are allowed for groups of four or more people. These tours do require reservations, as you are given a guided tour through the vineyard and winery and allowed to taste each wine with an appetizer pairing. Guests who choose the private tours are also given an etched wine glass as a complimentary souvenir.
269 Route 627
Village of Finesville
Milford, NJ 08848
One is not able to compile a list of New Jersey’s finest vineyards without including Plagido’s Winery.
Although this winery is relatively young, having only been founded in 2007, Plagido’s has become a leading name in the industry. The winery has already won multiple awards, such as New Jersey Monthly’s Jersey Choice Top Wines 2012 and Excellence in Tourism 2012. Their wines are also just as noteworthy, with the Concetta's Casalinga 2014 and Cranberry 2014 earning Gold at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. Other honors include winning Double Gold and Best of Class at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition with their Cranberry 2011.
Wine critic Charlie Toms stated, “Unlike most of the state's wineries which do better with fruit wines and white wines, Plagido has mastered the reds.” Considering that Plagido’s is currently ranked number eight in New Jersey for its red wines, many must concur with Toms’ sentiment.
Other benefits of Plagido’s are their easy to remember schedule, open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. every day, and reasonable prices, ranging from $9.99 to $34.99 per bottle. Reservations for Plagido’s wine tastings are not required. Furthermore, if you fall in love with their wines, you do not have to wait until you come back to the vineyard to enjoy their products. Case Club members receive four wines delivered to their homes three times a year. Membership also allows customers invites to exclusive events and the ability to purchase pre-released wines. The Case Club is free to join; members only have to pay for their wine shipments.
570 N. First Road
Hammonton, NJ 08037
If a fun atmosphere is just as imperative to you as a good wine, look no further than Hawk Haven Vineyards.
In just five short years, the winery, started by married couple Todd and Kenna Wuerker, has grown exponentially. Hawk Haven now has 12 different varieties of wines, half red and half white, all grown on their 13 acres of vineyard on their 100 acres of land. Wanting to oversee every aspect of their business, the Wuerkers ensured that all phases of production, from harvesting to bottling, would be accomplished on site. This is one of many reasons that aggregate critic ratings have placed Hawk Haven as one of the top five producers of both red and white wines, number two and number five respectively.
Customers can do tastings for only $7. If you are looking to taste limited editions or something more exclusive from the winery, you should sample their Signature Series Collection, which often includes their Reserve Merlot, Reserve Chardonnay and other specialty wines in rotation.
For those who would like to learn more about the vineyard, tours are usually held every Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. for only $25, souvenir glass included. Starting June 28, tours will be provided daily. Reservations are required for the tour.
Wine tastings, however, only require a reservation if you have a group of six or more. It can grow crowded in the tasting room, especially on weekends. A group that size can take up an entire bar, so you will want to make arrangements ahead of time to accommodate your group.
This vineyard is open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.during the summer, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. during the spring and fall and 12-5 p.m.during the winter.
During the summer, guests can enjoy Sangria Sundays, which includes live music and food from local vendors. Similarly, from May 24 through October 26, Hawk Haven hosts Saturdays on the Crushpad. This event allows visitors to try the vineyard’s latest wines while listening to local songwriters. They provide wine by the glass, bottle and wine flights. For help soaking up the wine, the Crespella Gourmet Creperie cart serves up sweet & savory crepes on Saturday and Sunday.
600 South Railroad Avenue
Rio Grande NJ 08242
Connoisseurs of food and wine alike will relish Friday nights at Auburn Road Vineyards.
The award-winning estate, ranked No.1 in the state for its white wines, has paired with local restaurant Severino’s to host the popular series What’s for Dinner Friday. At these events, guests are provided with a five-course food and wine tasting for only $29.99. Some of the sampled wines include the World Wine Championships Silver Medal winning Classico 2011 and the 2013 BTI Northeast Regional Review’s Best New Jersey White Wine and Gold Medal winning White Bottle 2012.
Another special feature at Auburn Road is the Enoteca, their European style wine bar, which boasts house specialties like the tomato bruschetta and homemade gelato. The Vineyard Stage is housed inside Enoteca and hosts everything from open mic nights to theatrical performances. Wine tastings and tours are available daily, but reservations must be made in advance.
Tastings are $5 per person with all 14 varieties available for sampling. Visitors are also gifted an etched Auburn Road souvenir wine glass. Tours are $15 and include a discussion with the winemakers and selection of Enoteca’s artisan breads and cheeses, as well as the above mentioned amenities.
117 Sharptown-Auburn Road
Pilesgrove, NJ 08098
For the past 20 years, Cape May Winery and Vineyard has been a competitor on both the state and national levels.
Ranked by critics in the New Jersey top ten for both its red and white wines, this winery possesses awards as the 2012 Governor’s Cup (Isaac Smith Port) and the 2013 Gold Medal in the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.
Every Wednesday during the summer, Cape May holds Grill Night. This event costs between $32-$36 and features buffet items such as mahi-mahi and organic flatiron steak paired with a vineyard specialty. Each dinner’s menu is different and reservations are required. Likewise, First Friday is a special event held every month featuring happy hour drink specials from 3-6 p.m.
Other benefits of visiting include a self-guided vineyard walk and deck venture; the latter being a popular destination for picnickers. The Six for Six tasting, in which guests receive six wines from Cape May’s current menu for just $6, is available from 12-6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and open until 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Cape May souvenir glasses are provided free of charge and reservations are required for parties of eight or more.
711 Townbank Road
Cape May, NJ 08204
Is there anything better than free?
Natali Vineyards hosts free events all during the summer starting in June. Wine it Down Wednesdays, from 4-9 p.m., brings local food vendors and craft artisans to the vineyard along with live music and games. This family and pet friendly series encourages guests to pack a picnic and come watch the sunset. Music in the Vines Monday, also from 4-9 p.m., is a set of music centered community events, where you can try wine slushies while playing bocce ball, horseshoes, and baggo. Natali does not need any supplemental entertainment to keep the customers coming though.
Renowned for its fruit wines, the winery is the only one in the state to cultivate plum and banana wine. Even more impressive is the fact that Natali is the only vineyard in the world to use beach plums (Prunus Maritime) in wine. Customers can try these varieties and more in the “5 for 5,” which includes five wine samples for $5. Bottles are affordable as well, with prices starting from $14. Tours of the grounds are available for $10; reservations are not required, but are recommended.
221 North Delsea Drive (North Route 47)
Cape May Courthouse, NJ 08210
A New Jersey leader in both red and white wine production for the past twenty years, Unionville Vineyards is a must for wine aficionados and novices alike.
Critical acclaim is in great due to winemaker Vintner Cameron Stark, who worked as an apprentice in Napa Valley while studying at UC Davis to perfect his art. Principal wines include the Vat 18 Port, a 2013 Gold Medal & Governor's Cup Winner, and the 2012 Pheasant Hill Chardonnay, a Gold Medal winner at the San Diego Sommelier Challenge and the Beverage Tasting Institute. Tastings are available from 12-5 p.m., seven days a week. Guests pay $10 to sample eight of Unionville’s signature wines, no reservations necessary.
Unionville is also known for fun community oriented events, such as its annual Sunset Lobster Bake. The dinner is $88 per person and features catered food from Tiger’s Tale and live music from Acoustic Road.
9 Rocktown Rd
Ringoes, NJ 08551
Inspired by his Italian immigrant grandfather, Louis Caracciolo made the decision to found Amalthea Cellars more than 30 years ago. Critics and wine lovers alike appreciate Caracciolo’s carefully crafted wines.
Amalthea’s red varieties are even ranked fifth in the state by aggregate critic ratings. Also, with bottles priced from $12.99, anyone can enjoy these quality wines. Amalthea Cellars is so confident in their products that they even offer a complimentary flight tasting, one of four different tasting packages. In the complimentary flight, guests can try up to six house dry or house semi-dry wines. The VIP flight, which can be from 12-16 wines and totals $11 per person, allows the customer to add the Reserve & Legends Edition wines for just $6. The $8 Platinum option includes new releases, while the Special Value flight allows visitors to try all wines on site.
For group wine tours, you will want to reserve seven days in advance to allow the 'taster' to prepare the selected tasting your group chooses. They will, however, try to work with groups that provide less notice.
Reservations are not required for parties of less than 15 people. However, there is a limo policy that requires all passengers to pay a $5 fee, but this fee provides said passengers with their choice of house dry flight (six to seven wines) or house semi-sweet flight (five to six wines). Amalthea is also known for outdoor events, such as their recurring “The Mysteries of The Green Dragon Tavern.” This activity includes bonfires, live music, a wine garden, and an antipasto bar for only $15.
Adventurous wine aficionados should check out Amalthea Cellar’s annual Run the Vineyards 5K and 10K. The run, arranged around the vineyard, costs between $40-$45 and participants receive a t-shirt and wine tasting.
209 Vineyard Road
Atco, NJ 08004
Renault Winery is most famous for being the oldest vineyard in the state of New Jersey.
Founded in 1864, this winery features many amenities that help Renault to stay fresh amid the architecture and old-world elegance of their facilities. Among their facilities, Renault has its own golf course, in which you can play for just $40 every day after 4 p.m.
The grounds also boast two renowned restaurants, Renault Gourmet and Joseph’s Restaurant. Renault Gourmet features a $23.95 Sunday brunch option, which won this year’s Open Table Diner’s Choice award. They also offer a three course dinner with wine selection for $32 per person. Joseph’s Restaurant is also a local favorite, serving everything from seafood to burgers for over ten years.
Renault also hosts many community events, such as the annual Renault Summer Wine Fiesta. This free outdoor event features traditional Spanish fare and alcoholic beverages; Corona and margaritas are provided, along with their signature wines. Another special happening this year is Renault’s 150th Anniversary Celebration Gala on July 18. For $150 per couple, guests will enjoy a cocktail reception with open bar and a multi-course dinner with filet mignon and butter poached Maine lobster.
72 Bremen Ave
Egg Harbor City, NJ 08215
Vander Plaat Executive Limo has been redefining transportation in Bergen County for more than 20 years. With vehicles ranging from the four-passenger Lincoln Town Car to the 14-passenger Cadillac Escalade, clientele are always provided with comfort, as well as style and class. Packages, including everything from sports to weddings, mean that Vander Plaat is able to accommodate a wide variety of customers. Servicing all of Passaic, Morris and Suffolk Counties, in addition to the entire New York metropolitan region and beyond, Vander Plaat has become a trusted name in luxury travel. For more information, please visit our website at www.vanderplaatlimo.com.
Photos courtesy of vineyards.