In New Jersey, winemaking is a family tradition that has grown by leaps and bounds in less than a decade, and is poised to achieve even greater heights in the next. Having evolved from a handful of operations into an officially designed American Viticultural Area (AVA) with more than 30 wineries and vineyards, the wine industry in South Jersey now accounts for a significant portion of the $30 to $40 million the industry generates statewide, annually.

New Jersey was the seventh-leading domestic wine producer in the country in 2010, pumping out the equivalent of more than 700,000 cases of wine from yields across nearly 2.5 million acres on some 200 farms—a figure the U.S. Department of Agriculture expects will increase dramatically in the future. The most popular reds include cabernets and chambourcins; the top whites are chardonnay and vidal blanc.

For visitors who want some help planning their routes through these flowering fields, the Two Bridges
Wine Trail, Pinelands Reserve Wine Trail, and Cape May Wine Trail offer guidance that includes maps to local landmarks, downtown shopping and dining, and more.

It all means that wine lovers don’t have to sock away their pennies for a Napa vacation to enjoy an authentic adventure: trail tours, tastings and festivals in South Jersey will fill up your weekends without draining your bank account. Whether you’re up for a deep dive into the lush vineyards of the Outer Coastal Plain AVA, or just want to dip your proverbial toes into the grape-stomping vats, mouth-watering memories are just moments away.

WHAT IS AN AVA?
The engine behind the recent boom in South Jersey winemaking has been the formal designation of its nine-county vineyard area as an American Viticultural Area (AVA), acreage designated for the cultivation of wine grapes that isn’t confined to state or national boundaries. It’s a way to certify that the wine you’re drinking is produced from locally grown grapes, as opposed to locally headquartered businesses. South Jersey is located within the Outer Coastal Plain AVA.

WHAT IS THE OUTER COASTAL PLAIN?
The Outer Coastal Plain American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a 2.25-million-acre wine-grape-growing region that extends throughout nine counties in New Jersey. It includes nearly 30 commercial vineyards and wineries, 12 of which will be participating in the upcoming release of “Coeur d’Est,” the first proprietary blend to be produced in the region through the AVA trade association. The Outer Coastal Plain is open to tourists through its regional network of wine trails.