SJ Locavore goes to the East Coast Food & Wine Festival

Really, I love my job. It’s part of what I do to go to food & wine festivals, and the East Coast Food & Wine Festival was definitely a good one to go to. Although participation was from New Jersey only (I’d love to see some more East Coast there next year if they continue), the five NJ wineries who were represented at the festival were just enough for one afternoon. I had considered going for both days, but one day was just perfect for the number of participants.

I drove up with my friend Amy and her two friends Joanne and John (who are now my friends). Joanne and John have a farm in Gloucester County and are considering turning it into a winery so we had plenty to talk about on the trip up. 


Joanne and Amy drinking a red from Laurita.

We began at the Laurita Winery tent. I particularly enjoyed their Pinot Gris and their ’05 Cabernet Sauvignon. You’ve got to love New Jersey. We have no pretense here and when I asked the girl serving us where I could dump my glass, she showed me the ground. Brilliant. We spent a good deal of the afternoon throwing wine on the ground. Not that it was bad wine, but if I really want to be able to taste wine until the end of the day, I’ve got to keep my head clear. 

We moved on to a seminar given by Gary Pavlis titled “30 Minute Wine Expert.” Gary is an entertaining speaker and a great wine teacher. He teaches a course at Rutgers and entertained us with stories about the students who come to his class having done jello shots the night before and about the wine tasting that he set up with similarly priced NJ wines and French wines. He got the idea from George Taber’s Judgment in Paris.

Speaking of George Taber – I missed his lecture. We had the opportunity to sit with Gary Pavlis and talk to him while we ate. I then spent the rest of the afternoon looking around for Mr. Taber hoping to introduce myself and have him sign my copy of his book. Although he was there, I was never able to track him down.

The rest of the afternoon was spent eating some good food and tasting the wines from the other vineyards. Here are my favorites from each of the remaining vineyards.

John Altmaier from Alba Vineyard pouring us one of his excellent wines.

John Altmaier from Alba Vineyard pouring us one of his excellent wines.



Alba Vineyard – Alba’s winemaker George Altmaier personally took us through his selection of wines. I enjoyed the Dry Reisling, Old Mill Red, Syrah, and a dessert wine called Forbidden. I came home with a bottle of the Old Mill Red and the Forbidden.

Cape May Winery – Cape May’s Pinot Grigio, Victorian White, and Cabernet Franc were all enjoyable.

Hopewell Valley Vineyards – Hopewell hosted the event. I liked their Chambourcin and their Sangiovese.

Unionville Vineyards – Unionville had a Single Vineyard Chardonnay that they weren’t tasting in their tent, but we got to taste at Gary Pavlis’ seminar. It was very good. Very good. They also have a red called The Big O – a blend of Cab Franc and Cab Sauv – that was good. I came home with a bottle of it.

After tasting all the wines that these wineries had to offer, I have an even greater interest in discovering the rest of New Jersey’s wines. Not every wine was to my taste, but there were enough wines that I would buy and serve in my home to let me know there are more good ones out there.


  1. Thanks for sharing your experience! Just more evidence that The Garden State is living up to its name each day, and it’s clear that we can all eat and drink locally.

  2. You’re welcome. We certainly won’t starve or go without good drink here, will we?

  3. Sounds like you had a fun time. Laurita is a really beautiful winery. Hope we can all get together at Heritage this summer.

    • Gary Pavlis mentioned that Laurita has a fabulous tasting room. I don’t know when I’ll get there, but I certainly will put it on the list of things to do someday.


  1. […] On Saturday, the boys and I drove down to Heritage Vineyards for the Jersey Fresh Food & Wine Festival. I enjoyed my day there, but I have one gripe and I’ll get it over with first. Then, I’ll move on to the fabulous wines. What’s my gripe? The lack of Jersey Fresh food. There was one small stand selling some produce. Other than that, the food for sale was not Jersey Fresh. It was the typical festival vendors. It would be great to see some local restaurants come in and sell food that centers around what’s in season in like they had at the East Coast Food & Wine Festival. […]

  2. […] Finally, it’s Open That Bottle Night this Saturday night. In it’s 11th year, it’s the night when you’re supposed to open that bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion but that special occasion never seems to come up. I’ll be opening a bottle of Unionville Vineyard’s The Big ‘O’ that I bought at last year’s East Coast Food & Wine Festival. […]

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