Unionville Vineyards and Winery
In central New Jersey, you will find Unionville Vineyards and Winery located in Ringoes. Out amidst the lush green of trees and farmland, the winery is easy to find. The bright red siding of the winery is easy to spot. Vineyards are behind a large home. Picnic tables under shade trees are available for enjoying a glass of wine.
The tasting room is located on the second floor of an 1858 renovated barn. Originally, the land produced peaches. Later the farm was used for grains and horses. In the late 1980’s, the current owners established vineyards.
The atmosphere in the tasting room is friendly and relaxed with a combination of new and old. Many beams from the 1858 barn are exposed while new wood is also visible. Many items are available for purchase in the tasting room. Mustards are available for sale and Muirhead will be creating wine jellies for the winery to sell. Windows overlook the lower level of the barn where stainless steel tanks and oak barrels rest. Approximately 60 percent of the Unionville wines are sold in the tasting room. Even though we were visiting on a Thursday visitors were continuously stopping by to taste and purchase wine.
Stephen, assistant winemaker, who is also a commercial artist, greeted us. He created one of the labels on the bottles. The fox is the logo for the winery and throughout the tasting room, one will see pictures and wine labels with various foxes. A big event on the property is a foxhunt. We were reassured that the foxes are not hurt. Everyone likes to dress up, ride horses and be a part of the fun.
The owners of the winery are interested in producing quality wine and hire topnotch people. The current winemaker, Cameron Stark, trained at the University of California - Davis. He wants to produce wines that will compete with the fine wine market. To make this happen, he plans to use only vinifera grapes. The first planting of grapevines was in 1988. In 1993, Unionville produced the first vintage.
Cameron likes the rituals of wine. Everything from going to the cellar to choose the perfect bottle of wine to the traditional cork of the bottle is important to him. He also believes that Riedel glassware or glassware with good qualities makes a difference when tasting wine. He suggested doing a comparison of using a Riedel glass with another glass to see if there is a difference.
Unionville currently produces 17 wines although as Cameron strives to use only vinifera wine, he believes his quantity will go down but the quality will go up. We tasted several of the wines. The Dry Riesling is light bodied with a dry fruit flavor and dry aftertaste. The Pinot Gris is light bodied with a fruit flavor and a long aftertaste. Chardonnay has a fruit aroma and is medium bodied. It is balanced and crisp with a long aftertaste. Hunter’s Red is a Meritage with 64% Merlot and 27% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cabernet Franc. It has a nice fruit bouquet and a balance between fruit, acid and tannins. Chambourcin is more complex. It is a dark opaque red with raspberry fruit flavor and tannins. The Port is made with a Chambourcin grape. It is dark red with a raspberry fruit flavor and not overly sweet.
We had a tour of the first floor of the barn where stainless steel tanks line one side of the barn; with more in the middle and oak barrels line the other side. At the back is a shiny large bottling machine and a labeling machine. Underneath the tasting room is a large room for special events. Lined with stone the ambiance of the room is reminiscent of caves used for oak barrels. It would be delightful to experience an event in this room.
In the vineyards, the birds have learned about the grapes and how to play havoc with the grapes. Last year while the vineyards were covered with netting, birds would go down under the netting to reach the grapes. This year Cameron is insisting the nets be clipped down to prohibit the birds from going under the nets.
If you are looking for vinifera wines, stop at Unionville Winery. Cameron, the winemaker is intent upon making the best quality wines he can. If you have a chance to talk to Cameron or Stephen, you will meet men who are passionate about their work.
9 Rocktown Road, Ringoes, NJ 08551
GPS: N 40° 25.481 W074° 49.724
Visit this New Jersey winery that partners with Wine Trail Traveler.