Early Autumn To Do List

A host of festivals, wine events and clubs to check out.

Fall may be in the air, but so is a whiff of Adult Beverage Season. Ring in the beer festivals and the harvest-time wine events!

Two major-league toasts to Jersey brews and wines headline today’s events:

Jersey Drafts & Crafts Festival will be presented by the Garden State Brewers Guild on Saturday, September 16 from noon to 4 pm at Play America, 110 Schank Road in Freehold Township. Its name says it all: This festival only features made-in-New-Jersey beers and foods, with a focus on craft-caliber brews and edibles.

More than 30 breweries and distilleries have signed on to pour, including Alementary, Angry Erik, Beach Haus, Bolero, Brix City, Cape May, Carton, Czig Meister, Dark City, Death of the Fox, Demented, Devil’s Creek, Eight & Sand, Flounder, Forgotten Boardwalk, Flying Fish, Hoboken, Jersey Girl, Jughandle, NJ Beer Co., Little Dog, Lone Eagle, Rinn Duin, River Horse, Third State, Tuckahoe, Twin Elephant, Cooper River Distillers, Claremont Distillery, Little Water Distillery and Asbury Park Distillery.

Featured eats will include handmade cheeses, chocolates and beef jerky.

There are a limited number of VIP tickets, which include access to a special entrance, and to an exclusive area with special limited-edition beers.

All attendees will receive a souvenir cup for 4-ounce pours of beer. Spirits will be dispensed in half-ounce sample cups.

Tickets are $50; VIP, $75. Price includes admission, souvenir cup, 15 drink tickets for 4-ounce pours of beer, 4 drink tickets for half-ounce pours of spirits. Food and snacks are not included in ticket price, but multiple vendors will be serving samples.

Note: The Beer Fest area is restricted to those 21 and older, with a valid I.D. For information and tickets, visit njbeer.com.


Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 28: That’s when the inaugural After the Harvest Wine & Food will be presented by Provident Bank at the Culinary Arts Institute at Hudson County Community College in Jersey City.

This first-time event, a collaboration among members of the Garden State Wine Growers Association, the Culinary Arts Institute and the Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs/Tourism Development, will take place from 1 to 6 pm.

After the Harvest Wine & Food will feature wine sampling from six New Jersey wineries, tastings, culinary pairings, wine tutorials and live music. The event is the first event from a new partnership between the Culinary Arts Institute of Hudson County Community College and the Garden State Wine Growers Association.

Tickets are $25. Event-goers will receive a wristband and a free wine glass. Non-drinker tickets are $10. Attendees must be at least 21years old with valid I.D. A maximum of 500 tickets will be sold for this event. Admittance starts 12:30 pm and wine tasting will begin at 1 pm.

According to Tom Cosentino, executive director of the Wine Growers Association, the new collaboration will  produce a “unique wine and culinary experience.” The wine growers are intent, Cosentino notes, on establishing a long-term relationship with the culinary school.

Adds Dr. Eric Friedman, vice president for academic affairs at the college, “New Jersey wineries produce some wonderful wines. Having a chance to educate the public in a fun format is exciting for the Culinary Arts Institute.”

In addition to the samplings, educational wine tutorials will be held from 1 to 4 pm in the meeting rooms adjacent to the tasting area. Hourly talks will feature topics such as the Health Benefits of Drinking Wine, History of New Jersey Wine and the 5 S’s of Wine Tasting.

The Garden State Wine Growers Association is the statewide organization for the advocacy and promotion of the New Jersey wine industry. For more information and tickets, visit newjerseywines.com.


What do Millburn, Montlcair, Bloomfield, Randolph, Scotch Plains, Westfield, Maplewood, New Providence and Chatham have in common?

Great places to live, all of them, but there’s another thing: Each of these towns hosts the United Tastes of America Syria Supper Club.

We first told you about the Syria Supper Club in May. Since then, it has grown—nationwide and here in the Garden State. What’s it all about? Eating well and doing good at the same time.

The Syria Supper Clubs support families of Syrian refugees recently settled in New Jersey. The dinners are prepared by one or more of new Syrian neighbors, who share their traditional cooking skills with a table full of traditional Syria food. It’s not only about enjoying the food, but the conversation and making friends with neighbors old and new.

These meals present an opportunity for people who have been defined for too long as victims to share knowledge and skills unique to them—and for diners to become partners in fund-raising efforts. A minimum donation of $50 per person covers meal costs, plus support for the families.

Visit TheUnitedTastesOfAmerica.org to get more information and a link to local clubs as well as syriasupperclub.com for additional dinner details.

Meanwhile, here are some dates for Syria Supper Clubs in our towns:

Saturday, September 16: Montclair and Scotch Plains

Sunday, September 17: Bloomfield, Chatham and New Providence

Saturday, September 23: Randolph and Westfield

Sunday, September 24: Maplewood

Saturday, October 7: Montclair

Saturday, October 14: Millburn

Saturday, November 4: Randolph

Saturday, November 11: Millburn



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