The Historical Renault Winery in New Jersey
Located in Egg Harbor City, Renault Winery is a fascinating tourist destination in New Jersey, United States. It is an attractive historical site with more than 150 years of colorful chronology. In 1855, the story of Renault winery began after an insect destroyed a large portion of French vineyards. Renault is one of the larger winegrowers in New Jersey, with 48 acres of grapevines under cultivation, and producing 20,000 cases of wine per year.
The History of Renault Winery
The vineyard was first planted in 1864 by Louis Nicolas Renault, a French immigrant from Mareuil-sur-Ay who brought grapes from France. Renault opened to the public in 1870 and was the largest producer of sparkling wine in the United States for many years.
Did you know? Renault survived the Prohibition era by obtaining licenses to produce sacramental wine and various medicinal wines, including “Renault Wine Tonic,” which was sold by pharmacists across the United States.
Mildred Norman, decades before her treks across the continent as Peace Pilgrim, worked in the winery as a secretary.
In 2000, the vineyard was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can tour the buildings and learn about the history of this winemaking property. Renault Winery is one of the oldest continually operating wineries in the United States. The brainchild of Frenchman Louis Renault, the winery was established with the goal of producing high-quality sparkling wines that could be enjoyed by people all over the world.
Today, the winery still adheres to Renault’s vision, using grapes from his original vines to create varietals that commemorate special occasions, bring people together, and showcase the beauty of traditional farming methods. From its humble beginnings to its present-day status as a respected producer of fine wines, Renault Winery has a rich history that is deserving of appreciation and celebration.
The Biggest Champagne Producer in America
Renault immigrated from the Champagne region of France to America when aphid Phylloxera shattered the wine industry in Europe. He was the representative of the Duke of Montebello, a Champagne house in Rheims, France. He first tried to grow grapes in California, but to his surprise, they were also destroyed by Phylloxera. Consequently, he learned about the native grape varieties that were resistant to Phylloxera. Moreover, he explored suitable conditions to grow these varieties.
His quest ended up in New Jersey, where he found suitable land to cultivate his vineyard with similar conditions to the French climate. He bought land in Egg Harbor City for a vineyard in 1864. By 1870 winery was opened for commercial purposes, and Renault introduced his Champagne, which became promptly famous and a prize-winning wine.
The Renault winery soon became the biggest sparkling wine producer in America. Today, it is located on a 1400-acre site that includes an 18-hole golf course, a 50-room hotel, and two restaurants.
Renault Champagne and Fine Wines have been producing high-quality wines since 1864. Today, they continue to use state-of-the-art Champagne methods to produce their signature sparkling wine. They are one of the few wineries outside the region of Champagne, France to be able to use the term ‘Champagne’ on their bottles. While many things have changed since Renault first started making wine, its dedication to crafting timeless wines has remained the same.
THIS DAY IN WINE HISTORY
December 18, 1787: New Jersey ratified the US Constitution and became the third state. It was the first state to sign the Bill of Rights.
February 12, 1877: Louis Renault was born. He is the founder of Renault Winery. He was a French industrialist and a wine enthusiast.
1919: The Renault winery was at its peak when the American wine industry underwent a painful Prohibition Era. On January 16, 1919, ratification of the US Constitution banned wine formation, transportation, and selling. Due to the new legislation, wine formation was allowed only for religious and medical purposes. John D’Agostino, a grocery store owner, purchased the winery and manufactured a wine tonic during the time. It was sold in pharmacies throughout America and had a high alcohol content of 22%.
October 24, 1944: The founder of Renault Winery (Louis Renault) passed away on this date.
1977: Joseph Milza bought the winery and turned it into a resort. He was a newspaper publisher. He added hotels, restaurants, golf courses, and more to the property. In 1983, the first gourmet restaurant was opened at the location, followed by a second one in 2000. The golf course was introduced in 2004. It is an 18-hole championship course with several tournaments throughout the year.
2012: Renault Winery suffered massive financial damage in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit the resort and surrounding regions. No property was damaged, but the winery lost its primary customer base due to its massive destruction to the surrounding areas.
2013: Renault Winery produced 20,000 cases of wine. It id the second oldest winery in America, with more than 150 years of active production.
2014: The winery filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on November 13, 2014. Ocean First Bank, the business’ main creditor bought the winery in 2015.
December 28, 2018: The bank sold the property to Renault Properties LLC.
2019: Galloway Township decided to help the winery through the tax abatement program. It planned to spend $2 million on rehabilitation of the resort. It allowed the winery to come out of financial struggle. Currently, Renault includes a restaurant, a 55-rooms hotel, event sites, a golf course, banquet facilities, and much more.