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 the majority of French vineyards. Renault is one of the larger winegrowers in New Jersey, having 48 acres of grapes under cultivation, and producing 20,000 cases of wine per year.

Renault Winery, The Historical Renault Winery in New Jersey

The vineyard was first planted in 1864 by Louis Nicolas Renault, a French immigrant from Mareuil-sur-Ay who brought the original vinifera grapes from France. Renault opened to the public in 1870 and was the largest producer of champagne in the United States for many years.[10][11] Renault survived the Prohibition era by obtaining licenses to produce sacramental wine as well as 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. The vineyard continued to produce wine until 1957, when it ceased operations. Although no wine has been produced at the vineyard since that time, it remains an important historical site. 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 once-important 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 champagnes and 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.

Thi Renault immigrated from the Champagne region of France to America when aphid Phylloxera shattered the entire wine industry of Europe. He was the representative of the Duke of Montebello, a Champagne house in Rheims, France. He first tried to grow grape plants 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 very 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 Champagne, which became famous promptly and was a prize-winning wine of the winery.

The Renault winery soon became the biggest Champagne producer in America. The winery became so famous that it got Egg Harbour city’s name, Wine City. It is located on a 1400-acre site which includes an 18-hole golf course, a 50-room hotel, and two restaurants.

Renault Champagne and Fine Wines has been producing high-quality champagnes and wines since 1864. Today, they continue to use state-of-the-art champagne methods to produce their signature sparkling wine. This commitment to quality has earned them the prestigious title of “Champagne” producers in the United States – a title that only a handful of wineries can claim. While many things have changed since Renault first started making champagne, its dedication to crafting timeless wines has remained the same. 

green leaves on mountain during sunset

THIS DAY IN WINE HISTORY

February 12, 1877: Louis Renault was born. He is the founder of Renault Winery. He was a French industrialist and a wine enthusiast.

December 17, 1787: New Jersey ratified the US Constitution and became the third state. It was the first state that had signed the bill of rights. 

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 that time. It was sold in pharmacies throughout America and had a high alcohol content of 22%. It was recommended not to chill the bottles as they could turn into alcohol.

October 24, 1944: The founder of Renault Winery (Louis Renault) passed away on this date.

1977: The winery was turned into a resort in 1977 when Joseph Milza bought it in1977. He was a newspaper publisher. He transformed the winery into a complete tourist spot by expanding the property to hotels, restaurants, golf courses, and more. 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 the 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 20000 cases of wine annually. It was 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 bought the winery, the business’s main creditor, in 2015. 

December 28, 2018: The bank sold the property to Renault Properties LLC.

2019: In this year, 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, events sites, a golf course, banquet facilities, and much more. 

Resources

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