If your entire knowledge base of New Jersey revolves around the television program “Jersey Shore,” you may be shocked to learn that some mighty fine wine is being made in the Garden State.
And it’s being made in one of the country’s newest American Viticultural Areas, known as the Outer Coastal Plain.
The area encompasses approximately 2.25 million acres, including all or parts of Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Cape May, Gloucester, Monmouth, Ocean and Salem counties.
There are more than 20 wineries currently operating in the area, most of which were vegetable farms in “previous lives.”
A good example is Bellview Winery, which had been operated as a vegetable farm by three generations of the Quarella family, beginning in 1914. Eighty-six years after its founding, Jim Quarella began concentrating more on viticulture by planting more than 20 winegrape varieties in a 35-acre section of the property.
Quarella figures to be one of the “pioneers” of the new AVA, experimenting with the varieties to see which ones fare well in the Outer Coastal Plain climate. Early reports indicate that Pinot Gris may be one of those varieties. In a recent tasting involving Pinot Gris bottlings from Italy, Alsace, the Carneros region of California and Bellview, the Bellview wine came out on top.
Which may or my not surprise Snooki.