“Putting New Jersey wine on the map” is Devon Perry’s mission.
Perry became executive director of the Garden State Wine Growers Association (GSWGA), comprised of 60+ local winemakers, in March. This month, the GSWGA is celebrating New Jersey Wine Week (November 14–21) to delight wine lovers within—and attract others to—the tri-state area.
“It is an unexpected destination, but it is such an interesting part of the country,” says Perry. Indeed, wineries are scattered all over New Jersey, from Ventimiglia Vineyard in Wantage to Willow Creek Winery in Cape May.
New Jersey Wine Week kicks off at Drumthwacket with a presentation in which Governor and First Lady Murphy will recognize the winners of the Governor’s Cup Competition. These include Auburn Road Winery in Pilesgrove, Tomasello Winery in Hammonton and William Heritage Winery in Mullica Hill.
What do you have in store for New Jersey Wine Week?
We are kicking off New Jersey Wine Week on [November] 14, with the Governor and First Lady at Drumthwacket. We will be honoring the wineries that won the Governor’s Cup competition. We have a partnership with Tennessee Avenue Restaurants in Atlantic City that will be highlighting one winery a month for the next year, kicking off this month.
We will be doing toasts to New Jersey wines across the state and will be encouraging the public to share content with the hashtag #CheersToNewJerseyWine. It’s something you can do from home, at a restaurant or at a local vineyard to send a bit of an echo to the surrounding areas.
How did you get involved with the GSWGA?
I have a background in tourism. I was the executive director of Visit South Jersey, which celebrated everything beautiful and delicious between Philadelphia and Atlantic City. Through that, I worked closely with Tom Cosentino, the former executive director of the GSWGA, [who] sadly passed away in 2021. My background in tourism and the wine industry was a beautiful way to step into this position.
Did you always have an interest in wine?
Many years ago I was a co-founder of a company called Dining Info and GO BYO. It was a restaurant database serving 10 major cities. Nobody was covering whether you can bring bottles of wine to restaurants, if there was a corkage fee, etc. We specialized in that, and had over 53,000 restaurants in our database.
Also when I was younger, I was my grandfather’s right hand during wine-tasting dinners in and around Philadelphia. He was always curious about the price of a bottle and how many points somebody notable would give that bottle.
How does winemaking in Jersey differ from, say, California?
There are experts in New Jersey making wine who have worked in other wine destinations in the country and [around] the world. In New Jersey, we have the Old World or traditional wines, which are fine wines, and we also have wineries that do an exceptional job of producing fruit-forward wines.
Do you have a favorite Jersey wine?
My favorites are wines I did not grow up drinking. For such a tiny, adorable state, New Jersey [has such diverse] soil. I try to savor the nuances of each region. I’ve really been enjoying the wines of Warren Hills and wines from the Cape May peninsula.
What’s new with the GSWGA?
We have been working with chef Jose Garces and his general managers at Garces Trading Company in Philadelphia. This month, our wines will be featured at the Cira Center in Philadelphia. We’re going to be celebrating that during New Jersey Wine Week this month.
There is a bridge that connects the Cira Center to [Philadelphia’s] 30th Street Station. This is the gateway for a lot of national and international travelers, as well as residents of the city, so it’s a great place to introduce New Jersey wine to people!Click here to leave a comment