Blue skies, with tufts of puffy clouds, and the New York skyline in the distance created the perfect backdrop for the inaugural Jersey Skyline Wine Festival which took place this past weekend at Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey.
My friends and I arrived at a little past 2 p.m. After we paid the entry fee, the attendant gave us each a wine glass etched with the New Jersey Wine Growers Association logo, a pencil and a list of the 13 participating wineries. They told us to hold on to our glasses as they would replace them only if they were broken and we had proof.
The wineries occupied tents on the edge of the large field; vendors selling a variety of products took up the tents in the middle. We moved from tent to tent, tasting several fruit-infused wines, varieties made from hybrid grapes and Chardonnays, Merlots, Pinot Grigios, Cabernets, Rieslings, and Shiraz.
By the time we got to the fourth tent, I could feel the wine was already going to my head and I realized I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. We headed to a stall for lunch. What we lacked here was variety in the offerings. It would also have been great to have food that matched the wines that were available. I ended up with something that called itself jambalaya which only filled the space in my stomach.
By now, the band had warmed up and when they started playing the Hall and Oates classic, Sarah Smile, my friend noticed a couple who had temporarily abandoned the tasting and were canoodling, first outside then under a tent. Blame the wine, the great weather and yes, the music.
Stomachs now full, we resumed tasting at Tomasello Winery. I was intrigued by their Broomstick Brew and decided to try it. According to Tomasello’s description, Broomstick Brew is a blend of red wine and mulling spices, and is served warm. The winery’s server used something that looked like turkey baster to pour the wine into our glasses. Broomstick Brew is really mulled wine with a fancy name.
On our way out, my friend noticed a pepper vendor, Rosetta Farms and since we both love pepper, we headed over. I decided on a Chipotle Habanero mix that I can’t wait to try. Like the wines, it had several tasting notes – a bit salty at the beginning, flavorful in the middle and kick of pepper at the end.
The Jersey Skyline Wine Festival was a wonderful introduction to the varieties of wines produced in the Garden State. Although I don’t like fruity wines, I tasted strawberry, peach, blueberry, and apple but wasn’t bowled over by them. The varieties that were made from hybrid grapes like Vignoles, Chambourcin and Traminette that were produced here in the US were more to my liking. My other favorites were a Cabernet Franc, a Riesling 2010, a White Merlot, and a few of the desert wines. Even with all the notes I took, it was still hard for me to decide what to buy.
I’m looking forward to attending a few more wine festivals before the weather changes. If you’re a wine lover in the northeast, it’s a great time now to enjoy wines produced locally. All the wineries ship to other states as well.
Linking this week with Travel Photo Mondays that Noel at Travel Photo Discovery organizes.