This year’s New Jersey Wine Competition and Governor’s Cup Awards happened virtually over Zoom, presented by the Garden State Wine Growers Association (GSWGA). Opening with a few words from Tom Cosentino (executive director, GSWGA) and Doug Fisher (NJ Secretary of Agriculture), the event announced 12 of the best wines in the state, choosing from 128 entries.
The wines were tasted and judged by the Beverage Tasting Institute (BTI) in Illinois for the third year in a row, led by Jerald O’Kennard. From rosé, to whites, to reds, the Institute blindly tasted a variety of wines, only knowing the category and appellation of each. O’Kennard stated that judges “continued to be impressed by the quality of the wines” and the BTI has held New Jersey wines to a high standard over the past three years.
A video message from Governor Murphy was presented, highlighting how each winery in the state overcame not only a damaging late spring frost, but a pandemic as well. With socially distant protocols set in place, BTI was able to continue with the wine tastings and judging.
“Despite the restrictions of Covid-19, the New Jersey’s Governor Cup is one of the only statewide wine competitions that moved forward this year,” said Gov. Murphy. “It now serves as a national model to other states.”
Hammonton’s Sharrott Winery won the Governor’s Cup for Best Red Wine with a 2018 Merlot that scored 95 points. Sharrott also took home the Best in Show honors, collecting two of the highest titles in the competition.
“We’re so excited we got the top score this year,” said Larry Sharrott. “Congratulations to all the other winners and nominees. I’ll be stopping by to try some of those wines!”
For the second year in a row, the honor of Best White Wine went to Beneduce Vineyards in Pittstown for their 2019 Tuxedo, a white wine made from Pinot Noir grapes. William Heritage Winery in Mullica Hill took home two awards, winning Best Sparkling Wine with their Blanc De Blancs and Best Dessert Wine for their Late Harvest Semillon. Bellview Winery in Landisville was another double winner, receiving Best Red Hybrid for their 2018 Estate Bottled Chambourcin and Best White Hybrid for their 2019 Traminette. Bellview took home the same honor last year for their 2018 Traminette.
In addition to the Governor’s Cup, the New Jersey Best in Class winners covered other wineries around the state. Best Fruit Wine went to Cape May Winery for their 2019 Isaac Smith Apple Wine, made with fresh pressed cider from Sunny Slope Orchards in Jackson.
The Best Fortified Wine was Auburn Road Vineyard’s Vintage Ruby Fortified Wine in Pilesgrove. The title for Best Rosé in the state went to the 2019 Equinox Estate Bottled Rosé from Working Dog Winery in East Windsor.
Now that the best wines in the state have been named, it’s the perfect time to travel around New Jersey’s wine trails and enjoy some of the best wines on the East Coast. Winners and nominees alike expressed their excitement to try out all the different wines across the state.
“I give you my thanks for your commitment to adding to our state’s growing profile as the home of world class wines,” said Governor Murphy. “I know our ever growing wine industry will keep us moving forward.”