Labor Day weekend can mean a lot of things. For the average kid, it’s the end of carefree summer days with no homework. For the average mom or dad, it’s the most glorious time of the year. And for the average Garden State grape grower, it’s pretty much the high point of harvest season. This year’s grape crops are harvested, and wineries release their latest vintages. For the Garden State Wine Growers Association (GSWGA), a non-profit organization founded by the owners of New Jersey wineries, it’s the chance to show off many of the state’s award-winning wines and provide a space for families and fun — all while doing some good in the community — with the Labor Day NJ Wine and Music Experience. The two-day festival event will take place at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown, on Saturday, September 3 and Sunday, September 4, from 12-5 p.m. on both days (the official rain date is Monday, September 5).
According to Tom Cosentino, Executive Director of GSWGA, 2016 marks the 15th of anniversary of the organization’s annual Labor Day weekend festival, but this is the first year the festival will take place in a new home. “The goal of [this] event is to expose a broad group of consumers to many of our wineries and great wines while providing them with a great musical experience that will serve to make their Labor Day weekend a memorable and enjoyable experience,” Cosentino said. “We were at Allaire State Park for many of those years but felt the need to have a bigger venue for what we wanted to deliver in terms of marrying our wines with music.”
According to Cosentino, 17 New Jersey wineries from across the state and a host of area bands will be at in the two-day event. Participating wineries include: 2016 Winery of the year Heritage Vineyards (Mullica Hill), Bellview Winery (Landisville), Cava Winery (Hamburg), Chestnut Run Farm (Salem County), Coda Rossa Winery (Franklinville), DiMatteo Vineyards, Plagido’s Winery, Sharrott Winery and Tomasello Winery (all in Hammonton), Four Sisters Winery (Belvidere), Hopewell Valley Vineyards (Pennington), Monroeville Winery (Monroeville), Old York Cellars and Unionville Vineyards (Ringoes), Valenzano Winery (Shamong), Villari Vineyards (Sewell) and Wagonhouse Winery (Swedesboro).
There will also be two musical stages with a powerhouse lineup of bands, food trucks, and craft vendors. “I think this event will be something our festival attendees will find most entertaining and very different from other festivals we have promoted in the past,” Cosentino said. “The headline bands, Roomful of Blues and The Slambovian Circus of Dreams tour all over the country and have great followings.” Roomful of Blues (pictured) is known for their contemporary take on blues, swing and jazz, while The Slambovian Circus of Dreams marries alt-folk and Americana with bits of Pink Floyd and David Bowie.
“We also have a number of local bands that will be performing including Long Gone Daddies, Burning Bridget Cleary, Rogues on the Run and Hot Jazz Jumpers,” he continued. “We even have a kids’ activity tent where children can enjoy sand art, face painting, balloon art and more… The Wine & Music Experience promises to be just that — a great Labor Day experience for people of all ages.”
However, the NJ Wine & Music Experience not only fun and fermented beverages, according to Cosentino. A portion of all ticket sales will benefit the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the care, rehabilitation, and adoption of non-competitive racehorses. The organization also develops therapeutic programming for the benefit of at-risk youth. “[The foundation] will also have a presence on-site and can raise funds at their booth,” he said.
“The GSWGA board made a decision in January to find a charity partner for each one of our festivals,” Cosentino explained. “Our goal was to find a partner that was a natural fit for the theme of each event. For example, since our Wine & BBQ Experience [took place] on Memorial Day weekend, we partnered with The Fisher House Foundation, which assists families of military veterans. Since we were going to stage our Labor Day event at the Horse Park of NJ, we thought an equine charity would be ideal.”
So here’s what you need to know:
Discounted tickets for this year’s Labor Day NJ Wine & Music Experience are available online on the GSWGA website and by clicking here for just $25 until August 28. Prices will go up to $30 for tickets purchased during the week of the event and for day-of purchases.
In addition, the GSWGA is also offering holders of their new membership card a special VIP opportunity for this year’s NJ Wine & Music Experience including VIP parking, express event entry, guaranteed seats inside the GSWGA membership-only tent by the main musical stage, wine seminars, exclusive wine tastings and meet-the-winemaker opportunities, and more. Membership cards cost $100 (buy two and get 25% off the second card), and can be purchased online at www.newjerseywines.com. In addition to the festival package, cardholders can take advantage of special offers all year long.
Directions to the Horse Park of NJ are available online at the park’s website. Click here for more information.
About the author: Michele Thomas is professionally curious; she likes to learn stuff. A certified sommelier with 15 years of experience writing about food, wine, education and the arts, she chronicles her wine escapades as the Bed–Stuy Sommelier (@BedStuySomm) on Instagram and Twitter.
Hero (Top) Feature Image: ©vician_petar/Adobe Stock
Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
©Africa Studio/Adobe Stock
Garden State Wine Growers Association
Room Full of Blues/Garden State Wine Growers Association