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Bellview Winery
by
K.L. Sullivan

Bellview Winery is located in southern New Jersey and is easy to find. Stop by for a tasting and be sure to take the opportunity to try the Black Currant wine. If you have time, bring a picnic lunch to enjoy.

Approaching the family-run Bellview Winery from the front, we saw what appeared to be a small building located in a wide-open space with nicely maintained vineyards on the far right. Once inside the winery, we were pleasantly surprised by the size of the tasting room. This room has a comfortable feel with an array of wine giftware available for consumers. During the holidays, Nancy Quarella will keep as many as 40 gift baskets of various types and prices available for customers. The tasting room overlooks a large event area with tiled floors and wood paneled walls. This would be the perfect room to host a birthday, retirement or wedding reception. To the left side of the tasting room is a small tasting bar. Here we were invited to taste a sample of their wines including reds, whites and fruit wines.

 

We opted for a tour first. Jim Quarella provided us with an inside view of the winery operations. With a large press pad, located at the back of the winery, Jim took us inside to see how additions have been added to accommodate the production of wine. We visited the vineyard near the winery where we viewed large clusters of grapes looking delightfully luscious to the winery visitor but to the winemaker were a concern due to the denseness of the grapes. At this point, we had the wonderful experience of having a winemaker teach us how a winemaker tastes a grape. There are four steps involved. First, taste the juice from the grape, second, chew the skin for a minute, third examine the color of the seed, and finally chew the seed. A winemaker is able to get a good idea of the brix (sugar) level of the grape by tasting the juice and tasting the skin helps to know the tannin level. To be ripe grape seeds are brown not green. By chewing the seeds, the winemaker is able to estimate the amount of tannins in the grape.

 

Later Jim took us to the cellars built in the early 20th century. These were originally used for storing the family wines made by Jim's great-grandfather, Angelo, and also for hanging salamis to cure. Today these cellars keep oak barrels at the proper cool temperature.

For Bellview Winery, the history of the land the winery occupies is important. The current winery is located on property that has been in the family since 1914. Jim’s great-grandfather purchased the land and grew vegetables. In the last ten years, the farm has slowly changed to a vineyard and winery.  The first year, three acres of grapes were planted. Bellview became licensed as a winery in 2000. The last year to grow vegetables was 2002.

The acres of grapes have continued to increase until now they have 30 acres of grapes producing 110 tons of grapes. Last year they produced 12,000 gallons of wine (over 5000 cases). Bellview, an estate winery, grows 20 varieties of grapes. Viognier is a premium grape here.

In our discussions with the owner and winemaker, Jim emphasized that he wants to use grapes that grow well here. Even though Riesling and Pinot Noir grow here, he believes these grapes do not grow well in this area and wants to concentrate on varieties that will grow well in the maritime climate. Among his many varieties, we saw 5-year-old Sangiovese grapes bearing large clusters of grapes that would be ready to pick in about two weeks. Jim believes that the tightly packed clusters were too tight and do not do as well as they might in another area. On the day we visited, the grapes although not quite ready for harvesting, were beginning to fall off and if a storm came through many more would fall. Jim is considering replanting the grapes with another variety.

Bellview Winery participates in the wine festivals throughout New Jersey. With a large open space and a small stage for a band, Bellview Winery hosts several events at their winery each year. In the past, these events have included Jazz Festival, Sea Food Festival with a Car Show and an Italian Festival.  Watch for details as they are considering hosting smaller festivals more frequently – perhaps weekly.

Back in the tasting room, we tasted several wines including reds, whites and fruit wines. Bellview also produces two sparkling wines, which were not available for tasting the day we were visiting. We tried Traminette, which has a fruit and acid balance, with a fruit explosion on the finish. Angelo's is made from the Sangiovese grape and is light with a red fruit flavor. Vionigier ’05 has a fruit flavor and aftertaste. Lemberger has a dark stone fruit flavor and has a nice fruit and acid balance.  A dramatic fruit wine is the Black Currant that has an extremely herbaceous bouquet. It is sweet with an herbaceous taste. Lettizzia is a sparkling Muscat and the other is Starlight Blues, blueberry with sparkle. We look forward to trying these two wines in the future.

 

Bellview Winery
150 Atlantic Street
Landisville, NJ  08326

 

GPS: N 39° 32.373  W 074° 56.217

 


 

 


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