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) that is 28 members strong, 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.

Judgement of Princeton

In 2012, in what has become known as “The Judgment of Princeton,” both New Jersey and French wines were compared in a blind test by world-renowned experts in the field from the United States, France and Begium. The event was modeled after 1976’s famous “Judgment of Paris,” in which California wines famously beat French wines in a blind, international tasting. In the end, our New Jersey wineries had three of the top four white wines, and a red wine in the top three.