Home Features What's Next for NJ Wine & Spirits in 2016

What's Next for NJ Wine & Spirits in 2016

It’s tough to look ahead to a new year without first looking back at how incredible 2015 has been to the Garden State’s blossoming – and booming — wine and spirits industry. This year’s wines will likely be some of the best ever made in New Jersey; light precipitation, consistent temperatures and a warm spring made for an excellent harvest in the fall of 2015. Job growth within the industry has grown for 30 consecutive months, according to the Garden State Wine Growers Association, a trend that looks like it will continue into 2016. While no one can predict the future, here are a few thoughts about what’s next in the world of New Jersey wines and spirits.
Keep an Eye on Hunterdon County
Home to Beneduce Winery, Old York Cellars, Mount Salem Vineyards, Unionville Vineyards, Cooper River Distillers as well as Conclave Brewery, Hunterdon is well-positioned to become a “spirited” (wink, wink) tourist destination in the next year. A report from the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Class of 2015 — a program designed to foster leadership skills in community business leaders — indicated that the area has both the land and the capital to become “the next Napa Valley.” It’s one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S., and abundant farmland is still available, a combination that makes the prospect of opening a winery or distillery business very exciting to investors.
Devotion-Bottle-Line-Up-Off-Set“Healthy Options” Take the Lead in Wine and Spirits
Consumers today are more aware of their health and wellness than ever. This impact is felt when you visit restaurants (and see a gluten-free menu, or a vegetarian menu). The spirits industry is no different, and this wellness trend that will push growth in premium gluten-free and sugar-free spirits, such as Red Bank’s Devotion Vodka, which was the first vodka to market itself as gluten-free.
“Natural Wines” Continue to Shine (Naturally)
Natural wines are continuing to gain traction among consumers who like their booze as much as they like eating healthy food. The term “natural wine” has no official, USDA-sanctioned meaning, but it widely used by hooch producers and the media to refer to unfiltered, organic, or biodynamic wines and spirits, whether those items are, in fact, additive-free or not. (U.S. law does not require winemakers to list ingredients on labels — and plenty of artificial colorings, stabilizers, and flavor agents are allowed in wine production.)
nj_wines_mainContinued Industry Growth
In 2000, there were just 15 wineries in New Jersey. There are 50 wineries across the state now, and more vines are being planted each season. In fact, Princeton’s own Terhune Orchard and Winery recently broke ground on a new 3,500-square-foot building to house a larger production facility. With the support of the state government, the Garden State is now the seventh largest producer of wine in the United States, producing nearly two million gallons annually, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Wines from local producers such as Heritage Vineyards, Tomasello Winery, Alba Vineyards, and Sharrott Winery have won national and international awards. In addition, last spring marked the launch of a new website for The New Jersey Center for Wine Research and Education (NJCWRE). An organization within the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, the NJCWRE was established in 2014, and is dedicated to serving the state’s wine industry by generating and providing information for grape growers, wine makers, and wine enthusiasts. In other words, these are great times for Jersey-born hooch, and the best is yet to come. So raise a glass (of local wine or liquor, of course), and toast to New Jersey in 2016. It’s going to be a great year.
Hero (Top) Feature Image: ©monticellllo/ Dollar Photo Club
Additional Images (in order) Courtesy:
Devotion Vodka
Garden State Grape Growers Association