Archive for Outer Coastal Plain


Posted in Outer Coastal Plain (AVA) with tags , , , , , on May 8, 2012 by ballymote

An  AVA  (American Viticultural Area) is a specific, designated wine growing area within a state. In New Jersey there are three such designated areas, Warren Hills, Central Delaware Valley and the Outer Coastal Plain. South Jersey is home to the vast Outer Coastal Plain (2.25 MILLION acres) which is ten times the size of the other two areas combined. The OCP includes an area that stretches from just northeast of Trenton to Cape May, NJ and includes approximately 34 current wineries. As I mentioned several times on this blog, I am not a particular fan of New Jersey wines but I am willing to put in more time and tasting allowing for the (unlikely) possibility that I am actually missing the boat on some good local wines.

There are 2 primary reasons why I don’t feel attachments to the local wines. First, many of the wineries seem to have a compulsion to add some sort of fruit to the wines. Call me an irrational wine snob but, to me, wine is made from grapes, not grapes PLUS blueberries, or grapes PLUS peaches. Even if these fruit wines tasted good (and I realize many folks think they do), I would still not consider them to be wines. Maybe they should fall into an entirely different category of beverages which we could call “Frines”. This alone disqualifies many of the locally produced bottles from any consideration as serious wines. The second reason for my less than favorable view is that many New Jersey wine makers buy grapes from California and then blend those grapes with some from their own vineyards. This may, or may not, make their wines taste better but, in my opinion, it disqualifies them as New Jersey wines. Additionally, if the current marketing campaign wants to sing the praises of NJ wines and constantly remind all of us that “Jersey soil and our climate is reminiscent of that of Bordeaux”, bringing in grapes from out of state seems to shoot major holes in that theory.

What type of grapes are we producing in the vineyards of the Outer Coastal Plain? It seems among the reds there is a great deal of cabernet and merlot, some syrah, cab franc and a grape that seems to grow particularly well in this region, chambourcin. On the white side there is plenty of chardonnay, some sauvignon blanc, vidal blanc, pinot grigio and some riesling. Of all of these, I am intrigued by the chambourcin. In the next few weeks I intend to properly sample wines made from this grape.

The Glassboro Vintage South Jersey Wine Festival is being held the weekend of May 19th and 20th. Thirteen South Jersey wineries will be taking part and there will be opportunities to taste and purchase wines on the spot. The event takes place from Noon until 5:00 PM each day and tickets are available at the site for $25.00 or, in advance, at the website for $19.00. I intend to visit the festival on Sunday and sample a minimum of 40 different wines from among the participating wineries. I will report on what I liked and what I didn’t like shortly after the festival. It’s a great chance to enjoy both the weather and the wines so come on out and take part. Your admission even includes a souvenir festival wine glass.


Posted in Info on Wine with tags , , , on March 14, 2010 by ballymote

Last month I wrote here about a local New Jersey winery whose Cabernet Franc captured the Gold Ribbon at a San Francisco Wine Tasting competition.  Being the wine snob that I am, and having tasted a few, not many, but, a few of our home-grown wines, I was, at best, skeptical about the award. After visiting the website for Sharrott Winery I saw that this Cabernet Franc was available locally at Hops n Grapes, in Glassboro, for $19.95. I wrote in that post that I would make an exception to my “drink no NJ wine” policy and try it and report on my experience. Two weeks ago I purchased the wine despite the pleas of a fellow wine snob who happened to be in the store (we can sense the presence of our own with a system similar to Gaydar), and pleaded with me to use the $20.00 for a nice Spanish red he was recommending. I compromised by buying both.

At Siri’s Thai/French Restaurant on Friday night I opened the Sharrott Winery 2008 “Outer Coastal Plain” Cabernet Franc. There is something about an area of Winslow, NJ being known as the “Outer Coastal Plain” that seems bizarre to me but maybe areas of California felt the same way when they were designated as an AVA (American Vitacultural Area). The nose on this wine revealed red berries, forest floor, slight licorice scent and toast. The wine was medium body, had some decent structure and, much to my surprise, was very drinkable. I have had worse wines for $20.00 and it went well with my meal. I would have to say, I am pleasantly surprised at the quality of the wine. Am I now a believer in New Jersey wines? Nope, not by a long shot. However, as a result of my experience with the 2008 Sharrott Cab Franc, I will TRY to keep more of an open mind to the possibilities of our local wines. I would suggest you invest $20.00 and try it for yourself.