Perhaps a better title for this post would be Wine Shopping at and on the way to the Jersey Shore. I took the opportunity of my week in Avalon to visit a number of wine outlets to see what was available to those on vacation in the area. What I found was that the selection varies greatly from store to store as do retail prices. I guess it’s only natural to expect to pay a little more for all items, including wine, when you are on vacation and that pretty much proved to be the norm. Here is a breakdown on the places I visited.
BUENA DISCOUNT LIQUORS
This one is located on Route 40 just pass the intersection of Route 54 in the town of Buena using the back roads to the Jersey Shore. The first thing that caught my eye was the preponderance of local wines from NJ vineyards throughout the area. If you are looking for your favorite Blueberry wine, and who isn’t, this would be the place you’d want to be shopping. They also have a large selection of what I refer to as “plonk” wines, the Cavits, Hacienda’s, Turning Leaf’s of the wine world. If you search real hard though you can find a handful of decent choices such as Franciscan Cab at $25.99, the always dependable, Menage a Trois red blend at $11.49. For the real Aussie fans there is even a couple of Two Hands Shirazes, Lily’s Blend at $56.99 and Angels Share at $33.99. It’s not a place where I would spend much time browsing the selections but you can find something of interest in a pinch.
Located on OceanView-Woodbine Rd in Woodbine NJ, this store sits a few miles from busy Rt 9 which leads to access to many Jersey shore resort towns. You would expect that a wine outlet in this area would have a well-stocked and varied supply of wines. You’d be wrong. Campark’s focus is on beer and maybe I shouldn’t blame them as there is no question beer is the drink of choice for the hordes arriving for vacations at the beach. The few wines aside from the “plonk” brands that are available would be the Columbia Crest “Two Vines” series that usually sell for about $7.99 elsewhere marked at $12.99 at Campark. The always dependable Ruffino Chianti Classico Reserva is there for $29.99 and if you want to spend a few bucks for a Chardonnay there is the Husic at a brisk $44.99. One interesting find on a shelf marked “Sale Wines” was a lone bottle of Cockburn Vintage Port 1997, for $34.99. This usually sells for $65 – $80. I was tempted, but ended up being concerned as to how well it had been preserved in this store. Interestingly, this Campark Liquors sold one of the two winning tickets in the 2007 Mega Millions Jackpot of 350 million dollars. Buying a lottery ticket would be a better idea than buying a bottle of wine here. Just my opinion, though.
FRED’S AVALON LIQUOR STORE
Located at 23rd and Dune Drive, Avalon Liquor Store manages to cram an awful lot of stock into its meager space. I am pleased to report that although you will definitely pay a few more sheckles per bottle than back in your own neighborhood, Avalon Liquor has a tremendous selection of quality wines available year round. Their Australian collection is top notch with all of the Mollydookers available including the top of the line Velvet Glove ($224.99). The entry level Mollydookers such as The Boxer, The Maitre’d and Two Left Feet are all $32.99 as compared to $28.99 and $24.99 in most wine outlets. If the lottery ticket you bought at Campark Liquors turns out to be a winner you might purchase the 2005 Chateau Pavie for $550.00 (about $50.00 more than most places charge). They have an excellent selection of Pinot Noirs, Cabernet’s and Zinfandels. They also have some of my favorite QPR wines available such as Pillar Box Red for $13.99 (12.99 at home) and Strong Arms Shiraz $11.99 ($9.99 at home). It takes awhile to make sense of the layout of the wines but there is enough good stuff in this store to keep a wine geek busy browsing for quite some time. Kudos to Avalon Liquor for being a top notch wine outlet in a town with some really good BYOB’s.
KIX PACKAGE GOODS
Located at 6400 Landis Ave. in Sea Isle City, Kix is a good place to buy your beer for your time at the shore. There wine supply is limited and not very impressive. They have all the usual plonk suspects and a few real wines such as Zin 91 at $18.99, a Silver Oak Cab for more money than I wanna spend and the always present Ruffino Chianti Classico Reserva at $31.99. My advice would be to grab a six pack of Smythwick’s at Kix and pay the $1.50 to drive over the bridge into Avalon and get your wine at Avalon Liquors; but hey, that’s just me!