"And in the quick of the night they reach for their moment, and try to make an honest stand…"

by Katie Pizzuto on January 8, 2010

in Uncategorized

The email starts out like this, “I have some information for your blog on a new winery, Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery, in Cape May County, NJ.” I shudder and roll my eyes, but keep reading. “The sandy soils and tempering oceans make Cape May County ideal for Vinifera. Local reporters are slowly picking up on the burgeoning wine industry in Cape May; you should check us out too!” She wanted to know if I was interested in wine samples…I was honest, “Look I’m pretty damn hard on Jersey wines. For the most part, I don’t like them despite the fact that I’m a Jersey girl, and I’m pretty sure I fingerprinted some sort of document the day I popped out of my mom, agreeing to cheer and route for all things Jersey. It’s mandatory in this state, you know. So if you think you can actually change my mind, by all means, send the samples. But know that if I hate them, I’ll still write about them.” Done.

We can proudly claim Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Abbot & Costello, Thomas Edison, Shaq, Thomas Paine, Walt Whitman and Les Paul’s electric guitar. We grow amazing tomatoes and blueberries, have more Cubans than Havana, have America’s first brewery, and pathetically enough we’re home to BOTH New York NFL teams. What I’ve never been able to proudly claim until recently, though, was great Jersey wine. I figured it was just some kind of shortcoming I’d have to deal with the rest of my life…all 50 states make wine, but that doesn’t mean they all do it well. I have no doubt that I’ll soon be stoned by Jersey’s loyal, hardworking winemakers, but the truth of the matter is I never tasted a Jersey wine I liked enough to actually buy a bottle of it. So after a while, I stopped trying.

But listen closely to what I’m telling you, because I truly believe this pocket of New Jersey will be pumping out some damned good wine in the years to come: Cape May changed my mind. Cape May had the cojones to send me their samples despite the fact that they stood a good chance of getting a bad review. Cape May believed that much in their product. Cape May, folks, is making great wine. I tried both the Hawk Haven Winery and the Cape May Winery merlots, and I’d drink either over most California merlot any day of the week. These wines had structure, personality and balance. They had all the soft easygoingness of merlot but with a great backbone of acidity and a brightness seldom seen in the jam jars being bottled out west. Please do yourselves all a favor and give these guys a try. It’s a new year…a new dawn…a new day…and Cape May is crushing it.

I was, by the way, tempted to do an “Angels vs. Demons” post for Jersey wine, and feature Hawk Haven as the angel, but the truth is, I didn’t wanna waste your time. Throw a stone and you’ll hit a plonky Jersey wine…it isn’t hard…really. And hey, no hard feelings. If you’re out there in Jungleland and you think you are making a wine that will change my mind, by all means, step up to the plate. Make me eat drink my words.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Don January 8, 2010

Katie, it is truly a great thing when you find a wine that is well crafted. Much like well crafted beer is a pleasure too. I had pretty much wrote off all the wineries in Idaho as to use your word “Plonky”. Then I had some wine from the Koenig Winery and it was awesome! It was by far the best $20 bottle of wine I had ever had, and I would put it up against any of the best from California or Washington for that matter. I think the Vintner makes all the difference. You got a good one and he or she can make great wine from virtually any grape. Mediocre Vintners make mediocre wine.

Sounds like Hawk Heaven has a good one. There is your H, and Jersey for your region!

-Don

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2 Don January 8, 2010

By the way the really funny part of the previous story is that I live about 5 miles away from the Koenig Winery and I go past it at least twice a day on my way to and from work!

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3 Katie Pizzuto January 8, 2010

Unfortunately, Hawk Haven was tasted in the end of 2009 so it doesn’t count for my alphabet challenge 🙁

So tell me, what good beers are coming out of Idaho? I now have a wine to hunt down since I’ve never had any from that state, but you might as well throw some beer recos. in too (if there are any!)

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4 Don January 8, 2010

Most of the Idaho breweries are not bottling or canning their beer for market. There are some really tasty brews in Boise that I can get in growlers, but the breweries that are bottling are Sockeye Brewing from Boise, they have an IPA that is very good, Laughing Dog in Sandpoint, Idaho has a good Black IPA called Dogzilla that I like a lot, and Teton Brewing is also bottling, and they have a Sweetgrass IPA that is outstanding.

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5 Coupe 60 January 9, 2010

You didn’t mention the part where they packaged the wine they shipped you using $20 bills to keep it safe during transit…You did say it was a Jersey wine

😉

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6 Katie Pizzuto January 9, 2010

I have so missed your commentary Lou, LOL! It came packed with a dead fish 😉 Nice Jets win BTW. Watching Cowboys now.

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7 Coupe 60 January 13, 2010

WTF…We (OK I) demand new content…we’re not even getting a mail in Wordless wednesday picture?…

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