Chef David Burke: Jersey Wines Need Our Help

One of our most powerful restaurateurs is shining a spotlight on local vino—and wants the rest of us to do the same.

Person holding bottles of wine in field
Chef David Burke is spotlighting Meadowbrook Winery in Tewksbury at an upcoming dinner. Photo: Courtesy of Meadowbrook Winery

With 10 Garden State restaurants under his belt, celebrity chef David Burke is one of the most unstoppable forces on New Jersey’s thriving dining scene. And these days, he’s eager to give local wineries some extra love.

“We New Jerseyans have a big role to play in the growing success of our wines,” Burke says.

He chatted with us about his new vino-focused dinners, why wineries are crucial to our state’s landscape and more.

NJM: How can we help New Jersey wines succeed?
David Burke
: Go visit our wineries’ tasting rooms. Sample and buy the wines. Order them in restaurants, and if New Jersey wines aren’t on the wine list, ask about that. Ask your local wine store, too. Tell your friends about Jersey wines, and post about them on social media.

How are your 10 New Jersey restaurants helping?
At David Burke Hospitality Management, our staff is super enthusiastic about the numerous New Jersey wines we offer. Our diners sense that passion and order a glass or bottle. Then they become fans.

Our restaurants are inaugurating a monthly prix-fixe dinner series spotlighting one New Jersey winery [at each]. The first dinner is this Thursday, January 25, at Red Horse by David Burke at Bernards Inn in Bernardsville. We’re celebrating Meadowbrook Winery in nearby Tewksbury with five delicious wines to go with the four-course meal. One course is our dry-aged steak. [The tab is $99; find info and reservations here.]


Why are we suddenly hearing so much about New Jersey wines?
New Jersey wines are winning prestigious awards. But this didn’t happen overnight. Our pioneering wineries have worked long and hard to create healthy vines and well-balanced wines.

Our winemakers and winery owners have looked at the attention going to wine from states like Texas and Virginia. And they think, Why not us? We’re New Jersey; we make quality happen! And it’s happening with wine.

Count on the Garden State for food and wine excellence.
There’s so much talent and ingenuity in New Jersey. That’s who we are. Historically, we’ve led in the production of so many beloved American foods: apples and hard cider, peaches, tomatoes, sweet corn, cranberries, clams.

New Jersey farmers and entrepreneurs are not used to being left behind.
No way. And as it turns out, plenty of grape varieties grow happily in the Garden State. Our rich farmland has proved very conducive to grape-growing, and the warming climate means longer growing seasons.

[RELATED: Wines From Hybrid Grapes, Once Dismissed by Critics, Are Finding NJ Fans]

It sounds like you’re betting on Jersey winemaking.
I am. But we all need to be a part of this. And there’s another reason that New Jerseyans need to support our wineries. They preserve New Jersey farmland and habitat and keep them from being replaced by stores and housing developments. Wine will help keep rural New Jersey rural.

I detect a lot of Jersey pride here.
New Jersey wines are becoming one more reason to love where we live.

Red Horse by David Burke: Bernards Inn, 27 Minebrook Road, Bernardsville; 908-766-0002.

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