Early wine production in New Jersey
New Jersey has a long history of wine production, dating back to the early days of European settlement. The first vineyards in New Jersey were planted by Dutch settlers in the 1600s, and by the early 1800s, the state was home to more than 100 wineries. The majority of these wineries were located in the southern part of the state, which was well-suited for viticulture due to its moderate climate and rich soils.
New Jersey wines quickly gained a reputation for quality, and by the mid-19th century, they were being exported to Europe and Asia. However, the state’s wine industry suffered a setback in the late 1800s due to a plague of Phylloxera that destroyed many of the region’s vineyards. It wasn’t until the 1970s that viticulture began to rebound in New Jersey, and today there are more than 50 wineries statewide. Thanks to the efforts of these producers, New Jersey once again has a thriving wine industry that is gaining international recognition.
History of New Jersey Wine
New Jersey is home to one of the oldest wineries in America that is still in operation today. Proper New Jersey wine was first grown in Vineland and Egg Harbor City, New Jersey in the 1850s and 1860s. By 1859, the agricultural society was created and tested 40 different grape varieties to see which would survive the climate.
The Germans were the first to come to New Jersey and try their hand at viticulture, transforming the city from being almost non-existent to a city of German winemakers. However, the Germans weren’t the only Europeans exploring New Jersey. Renault, the only one to produce champagne from grapes, came from Mareuil-sur-Ay, France to Egg Harbor City and bought land in 1864. In fact, previous winemakers used apples to create champagne because it was easier to achieve the amber color.
Old wine bottles
By 1900, wine production in the area peaked, and eleven different wineries made 220,000 gallons worth of New Jersey wine. Over the years, New Jersey became known for its native red wines.
Prohibition and the decline of New Jersey wine production
New Jersey has a long and storied history when it comes to wine production. The state was once a major producer of wines, with over 100 wineries in operation during the 19th century. However, this all changed with the passage of Prohibition in 1920. The production of wine was effectively outlawed, and many of the state’s wineries were forced to close their doors.
It wasn’t until after Prohibition was repealed in 1933 that New Jersey’s wine industry began to rebound. Today, the state is home to over 30 wineries, and New Jersey wines have earned a reputation for being some of the best in the country. while the state’s wine industry may not be as large as it once was, it is still an important part of New Jersey’s history and culture.
Renault became a huge success, becoming the largest distributor of sparkling wine. He sold his winery to the D’Agostino family, who kept it alive and running throughout prohibition.
The government allowed the family to keep producing wine for sacramental and medicinal purposes. As a result, they introduced Renault Wine Tonic, a pharmaceutical product sold in drug stores. Its alcohol content was 22%.
The family skirted the government and put a secret label on their bottles that read, “do not chill the tonic, as it would turn into wine, which is illegal.”  The Prohibition was lifted in 1933 and is celebrated every December 5th as Repeal Day.
The Fall of the American Wine Industry and Rise of Illegal Winemaking
The renaissance of New Jersey wine production
In the past few years, there has been a renaissance of sorts in New Jersey wine production. Long overshadowed by the better-known wine regions of California and Oregon, New Jersey is now home to over 50 wineries, producing a wide variety of wines that are beginning to garner attention from critics and consumers alike.
The state’s diverse climate and geography provide ideal conditions for growing a wide range of grape varietals, and New Jersey wineries are beginning to experiment with new styles and blends. As a result, New Jersey wines are now being recognized as some of the best in the country. With its newfound reputation, the wine industry is beginning to significantly impact the state’s economy, providing much-needed jobs and revenue. The renaissance of New Jersey wine production is well underway.
Some of the most popular wineries in New Jersey
New Jersey is home to some of the most popular wineries in the country. The state’s diverse landscape and climate allow for a wide variety of grape varietals to be grown. Its proximity to major metropolitan areas makes it a popular destination for wine lovers. Some of the most popular wineries in New Jersey include the following:
* Amalthea Cellars is located in Camden County and specializes in red wine production.
* Brotherhood Winery in Washington Township is the oldest continuously operating winery in the United States.
* Cherry Grove Vineyards in Cumberland County offers a wide range of wine varieties, including both red and white wines.
* White Horse Winery in Freehold is one of the largest wineries in New Jersey and offers a variety of events and tours.
These are just a few of the many popular wineries located in New Jersey. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family-friendly outing, there’s sure to be a winery that’s perfect for you.
Wine festivals and events in New Jersey
New Jersey is quickly becoming one of the premier wine regions in the United States. The state’s climate and soil are well-suited for grape cultivation, and New Jersey wineries are producing some truly exceptional wines. If you’re a fan of wine, there’s no better place to be than New Jersey in the fall.
The state plays host to a number of wine festivals and events, including the Harvest Wine Celebration in Cape May and the Hammonton Italian Festival. At these events, you’ll have the opportunity to sample some of the best wines New Jersey has to offer and enjoy live music, delicious food, and much more. So whether you’re a wine lover or just looking for a fun day out, be sure to check out one of New Jersey’s many wine festivals this fall.
This Day in Wine History
1810: Essex County, Newark, produced 300,000 gallons of applejack.
18: Newark became the center of trading sparkling cider.
1834: There was a reduction in wineries due to a temperance movement, but 388 distilleries remained in New Jersey.
May 10 – November 10, 1876: Hincke, a vintner, exhibited his wines at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition.
May 1 – November 10, 1878: Hincke showcased his wine at the Paris Exposition, winning medals for Lohlink and Franklin wines.
1870: There were approximately 800 acres of vineyard surrounding Egg Harbor City producing New Jersey wine.
December 5, 1933: Prohibition was finally lifted and is currently celebrated as Repeal Day.
Want to read more? Try these books!
- Martin, Shayla. 2018. “How Prohibition Shaped American Wine Country.” Dec 5. Accessed Feb 25, 2022. https://www.winemag.com/2018/12/05/prohibition-american-wine-country/.
- n.d. “Our Story.” Accessed Feb 25, 2022. https://www.renaultwinery.com/our-story/.
- Press, UC. n.d. “A History of Wine in America.” Accessed Feb 24, 2022. https://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft967nb63q&chunk.id=d0e9742&toc.id=d0e9742&brand=ucpress.