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Cape May Winery
by
K.L. Sullivan

Cape May WinerySummary: Cape May Winery is focused on using quality grapes in their wine production. They have a variety of wines so they can offer different wines for different tastes. When you visit make sure you try the Port and experience a Tim Tam Slam.

We enjoyed our visit to Cape May Winery where everyone we met is enthusiastic about the wines they are producing. Notice the colorful carousel horse in the tasting room. The horse accompanies the winery to festivals for the benefit of visitors. Visitors who wish to return to the Cape May tent can easily remember it’s the winery with the carousel horse. What a unique idea!

Cape May WineryEleven acres of vineyards were planted in 1992. As you view the trunks of the vines, you’ll notice they are thick. Their age is a sign of the potential quality of the grapes from the vines. In addition to these grapes, the winery sources others grapes from New Jersey. The tasting room and winery building opened in 1994.

During our tour with Stephanie Busa, Director of Sales & Marketing, we went to the second floor where a large, bright room with comfortable seating and a fireplace is available for visitors to enjoy a glass of wine. The room opens to a large deck that overlooks vineyards. This is a perfect spot to share with friends and family. On the other side of the second floor, a walkway overlooks the tank room offering visitors a bird’s eye view of the process.

Cape May WineryDuring our tour we met Darren Hesington, winemaker for Cape May, who had previously worked at another New Jersey winery until he chose to go farther south to Cape May. In Cape May, the growing season is longer and grapes have extra days to ripen. Darren commented on the number of wines produced at Cape May, “One reason we make all of these wines – everybody’s tastes are different.”

Darren believes that the quality of grapes is important in making quality wine. He believes that “you have to grow what you grow well.” He also prefers having a contract with vineyards so that he can control how many tons of grapes will be harvested from an acre. Darren, like many winemakers, believes that the number of tons per acre reflects on the quality of the grapes and therefore the quality of the wine produced.

After our tour of the winery we tasted several wines. Notice the wine labels and names. Some of the wines carry a Cape May label and others an Isaac Smith label. Isaac Smith was a coffin maker who lived on the property in 1820. The label for the Isaac Smith wine is in the shape of a coffin. Another label reminds people “life is too short to drink bad wine.”

Cape May Winery

White Wines

Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007 offered an aroma of vanilla and oak with a taste of apple, vanilla and caramel. The finish was crisp with apple, butter and caramel nuances. Pinot Grigio 2007 offered a grapefruit/citrus aroma and taste. The taste was creamy while the finish was crisp and fruity. Victorian White is a blend of 60 percent Chardonnay and 40 percent Vidal Blanc. With a residual sugar of 1.25 percent, it had an aroma that was spring-like. It offered strong summer fruit aromas with a crisp taste and long aftertaste. This wine would be perfect on a warm summer day. If you enjoy sweet wines, be sure to try Victorian Blush with a residual sugar of 3.25 percent. This is a blend of 75 percent Chardonnay, 22 percent Cayuga and 3 percent Marechal Foch grapes.

Cape May WineryRed Wines

Cabernet Franc 2006 was a red/purple translucent color with a dark fruit aroma. The taste was smooth, fruit forward and spicy. The finish was crisp with spice giving way to fruit. Merlot 2006 was translucent red. The aroma and taste was of cherry and blackberries. A crisp finish that offered tannins and fruit followed the smooth taste. Isaac Smith Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 was a ruby translucent color. The aroma was of blackberries while the taste was creamy with blackberry nuances. The finish was crisp with a long berry aftertaste. Isaac Smith Syrah 2006 was a ruby translucent color. The wine offered a dark fruit and spice aroma with a creamy fruit taste. The finish was crisp with tannins and fruit giving way to spice.

Cape May WineryPort

Isaac Smith Port was a dark red. The aroma was of a fruit pie and raisins. The taste was very creamy and the Port finished hot. We had an opportunity to use the Port while making a Tim Tam Slam. Tim Tam is a chocolate covered biscuit made by Arnott’s in Australia. One bites the two diagonal corners of the cookie and then uses the cookie as a straw to suck up the Port. As soon as you taste the Port, immediately take the cookie out of the Port and eat it. The cookie tames the heat from the high alcohol and the Port flavors the cookie. It was delicious.

Wander through the tasting room to view the wine related items available for purchase. A small basket with three half-bottles of wines was available as an immediate gift to buy. Close by were bright pink candles in wineglasses as well as a wine bottle cut in half and filled with candle wax. The bright pink color would surely brighten a room on a dreary day.

Near the end of our visit, we were fortunate to meet the owner of the winery, Toby Craig. While he is happy with the progress Cape May Winery & Vineyard has made, he is looking to the future in terms of moderate expansion. We wish him much success and believe he will be successful based on what he has already accomplished.

Cape May Winery
711 Town Bank Rd.
Cape May, NJ 08204

GPS: N38 58.385’ W74 55.410’


 

 


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