Although I am from the Midwest, I had the opportunity to spend two years on the East Coast, specifically in the state of New Jersey. We moved to the area in the winter and having no social connections or knowledge of the area, the weekends were becoming a bit stale. To help break up the drudges of the winter, we decided to check out some local vineyards. I found a great collection of local vineyards in NJ onwww.newjerseywines.com and we set out to our various wine destinations throughout the winter and into the summer. After moving from a small town in WI to an urban area of NJ, the wineries were a great escape and it helped us to get to know NJ beyond the Garden State Parkway and the Turnpike. There is just something about a Saturday or Sunday afternoon wine buzz that helps prepare you for the week ahead and gives you the time to sit back and appreciate the smaller things in life. As the weather improved, we would gather up snacks and share a bottle of wine on the patios or in lawns of the vineyards. This was by far my most favorite part of the experience.
During our visits we always participated in the wine tastings and there are a couple favorite local wineries and favorite wines at each the locations in NJ area which I will share with you later this month. Although we didn't make it to every single winery, we were able to cover a lot of ground within the central NJ area.
I took away a few insights from our travels and our East Coast experiences that I would like to share. First, although you read about the wine production growth in the USA, it's really fantastic to be able to see it in person. Most US states have all kinds of small to large vineyards that produce excellent wines. In MN, many of the vineyards use grapes engineered by the University of Minnesota. These grapes are able to withstand the harsh winters of the Midwest. Our states and regions are finding the grapes that produce the best wine for them and they are excelling in their wine productions.
Each time I travel to a new state, I try to locate local vineyards. Check out your own local wineries and plan a visit. It will give you something to do this weekend! There are great resources out there to help you locate wineries. Check with your local tourism boards or just simply Google wineries in your area. Or there are comprehensive sites out there like www.officialwinery.com that can help you seek out wineries by state.
Second, wineries provide a great opportunity to chat with locals. Most people are proud of the state that they live and work in and can give outsiders an inside look. We have had many pleasant conversations during our visits.
Third, every state holds its own little piece of magic. Who would really think that that state of NJ could be a wine traveler's destination? Or WI or MN for that matter? But I have found many gems in all of these areas and encourage wine drinkers out there to consider the possibilities.
If you have more questions regarding wineries I have visited, please feel free to e-mail me!