I’m always taken by surprise when I walk out my front door and the lawn is filled with brown leaves. Maybe I’m too distracted by the start of school and all the back-to-school hoopla, or maybe I’m just in denial as long as I can be that summer is coming to an end.
While I don’t want summer to end, there are things about fall that I love — including all the wine experiences that are waiting to be had.
The Harvest – The grapes have grown all summer long, soaking up the sun and drawing the unique qualities that the terroir has to offer out of the vineyards. Over the past couple of weeks, the harvest began and is still going on. There is not one specific harvest date for all grapes. The varietal, the weather conditions of the specific growing season, and the instincts of the winemakers all go into deciding exactly when to pick the grapes.
The harvest season culminates in celebrations at individual wineries and one large festival, The Jersey Fresh Grand Harvest Festival, October 1 & 2 at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm in Morrisville. Seventeen local wineries will be pouring samples and selling bottles, plus there will be a chance to sample and learn about other Jersey Fresh agricultural products, listen to live music, and eat some good food at this family friendly festival.
Wine Train – The Warren County Winery Train that runs along the Delaware River takes riders to Villa Milagro Vineyards in Finesville. After a tour and tasting at the winery, you can buy a bottle of wine make your way back to the train that makes a stop at the Ol’ Susquehanna Mine, where you can stay and picnic (bring your own filled basket). As long as you don’t miss the last train back for the day, you can stay at the mine as long as you’d like. This sounds like the perfect wine-inspired Saturday or Sunday day trip to me.
Live Music – The local wineries keep the live outdoor concerts going as long as the weather permits. Sharrott Winery in Blue Anchor has free live music Wednesdays through Sundays. New Jersey’s newest winery, White Horse Winery in Hammonton, has live music on select nights too, along with some food to buy. Saturday afternoons Hawk Haven Winery in Rio Grande has live music on the Crushpad.
Remember when you go to see these free live music performances, you can buy food or bring your own food and non-alcoholic drinks, but you can’t bring outside alcohol to any New Jersey winery. You can always buy wine from the winery to drink during the concert, which of course you’ll want to do. Tell the tasting room pourers what you’ll be eating, and they’ll recommend the right wine.
Family Time – I mentioned the Grand Harvest Festival is family friendly, and so are many of the events that are held at the individual wineries. If you can’t make it all the way up to Morristown, Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes has a Fall Harvest Festival on Oct. 1 with magicians, pumpkin painting, and Halloween crafts. Kids under 13 are free. The Wine Train and the live music events are great family events, too. Individual wineries always are happy to have supervised kids visit. When my sons were younger and I was starting to explore New Jersey’s wineries, we’d put baseball gloves in the car and their dad would take them outside to toss the ball around while I tasted.
Fire Pits – Last weekend, I lit a fire in my backyard fire pit, opened a bottle of red, put on some favorite music and welcomed fall under the harvest moon. Drinking wine around the fire pit with friends (or even by myself — everyone needs a night to chill alone once in a while) is one my favorite fall activities. If you don’t have a fire pit at home, head to Willow Creek Farm and Winery in Cape May for Fire Pit Friday where there’s a fire pit, live music, wine tastings and tapas.
Robin Shreeves is the food and drinks writer for the environmental news site Mother Nature Network, and a frequent contributor to Edible Jersey Magazine and Drink Philly. She’s also the co-author of “The One Year Women in Christian History’’ (Tyndale, 2014). On the Wine Trail is a weekly look at New Jersey’s wineries, wines and wine enthusiasts, trends and news.
Robin Shreeves (2016, September 22). Courier Post. Retrieved from