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Cheers to New Jersey Wine!

Updated: Aug 12

To be honest, I'm not much of a wine guy. Sure I'll enjoy a glass every now and then, but it's definitely not in my main rotation of alcoholic beverages of choice. I had not even been to a vineyard or winery in my now 33 years of life prior to my episode with Dustin Tarpine, owner of Cedar Rose Vineyard and Devon Perry, Executive Director of the Garden State Wine Growers Association.

I was aware that New Jersey had vineyards and wineries, I once spent a rainy day at a wine-tasting event in Morris County that featured NJ wineries, but I have to say I was unprepared for the extent of the network of wineries that exist, not just in South Jersey but around the state. Cedar Rose Vineyard is in South Jersey, about a two hour ride from my home in Morristown, in the town of Rosenhayn (the mailing address says Millville but Dustin grew up essentially next door to this vineyard so I'm taking his word for it) and was immediately floored by the beauty of the area.

Cedar Rose is located in Cumberland County and neighbors Salem County, two of the poorer counties in New Jersey. Essentially, these counties are made up of a lot of hardworking people who work, in some capacity, in farming and agriculture. There really isn't much else going on down there, at least in the short time I spent driving to and from the vineyard.

I did make it a point to stop at a local roadside BBQ spot, which was essentially a metal lean-to next to a butcher shop and was owned by a US Veteran. It was about a 5-minute drive from Cedar Rose and totally worth the stop, although I still haven't been able to find the place on any online platform, so much for technology...but I digress, back to our day at Cedar Rose.

However, none of that stops Dustin and his team from growing fine wines and running a second business that helps aspiring wine growers get their vineyard installed and started. As I mentioned above, Dustin, along with his friend and business partner, grew up right near their current location and used to look at the woods in the backyard and dream, "what if?" Well, those trees were cut down and used as the posts for their vines, many of which still stand today and the process got started. As Dustin describes in the episode, it took a lot of long days and nights, working multiple jobs to get this thing started but sitting there and enjoying the views I'm certainly glad they did it.

Both Dustin and Devon were great hosts. Essentially Devon's job at Garden State Wine Growers is to provide services and assistance to New Jersey's wineries to help them succeed and Dustin sits on the board of that organization. They described challenges facing the NJ Wine Industry and gave me a crash course into what actually goes into running this type of business. It was truly eye opening and after a couple glasses of their homegrown and homemade wine, I was hooked.

For those that are familiar with the laws that govern breweries and distilleries, I also learned that vineyards and wineries are not governed by the same laws. So you can actually buy food from their "food truck" which they have parked next to their tasting room. That's just a fun fact for anyone planning out their trip down to Rosenhayn, NJ.

Devon and I did discuss doing more of these types of episodes because I am now very interested in what the New Jersey wine scene has to offer. Cedar Rose was a great start and I am sure there will be more great experiences along the way. But I will say, next time you're in a local liquor store see if they have any NJ wines and pick one up. If they don't have them, ask for them! They stand up to plenty of other regions that produce wine and I promise you will not be disappointed!

This episode will be posting August 15, 2023

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