After reading about how thrilled we were with the Unionville wines, which we tasted at a press dinner at the Strip House in Livingston, GM John Cifelli invited us to tour the winery. The wines we tasted were impressive and the grounds gorgeous. A shout out to winemaker Cameron Stark and his staff, who are producing some very impressive wines in New Jersey.
Some of the prestigious awards that the winery has won were the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for their 2013 Unionville Home Chardonnay (Double Gold); the 2016 NJ Wine Competition for the 2012 Pheasant Hill Syrah (Gold); and at the Judgment of Princeton in 2013 their single vineyard Chardonnay came in second in a blind tasting between New Jersey and high-end wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy.
The Unionville Vineyards winery opened to the public in April 1993 and sources grapes on five estate vineyards from over 300 acres of preserved farmland located across three New Jersey counties. Winemaker Cameron Stark makes 26 different wines and has 22 years experience in the field. He studied viticulture at UC Davis and spent 10 years making wine at Napa Valley wineries. He now produces 26 wines and manages every step of the wine-making process from grape growing to bottling. The vines are cultivated, pruned and harvested by hand. Almost all barrels are 5 to 15 year old French oak.
We tasted many wines and all were worthy of purchase. Our favorites were the refreshing 2013 Pheasant Hill Chardonnay; 2002 Hunter’s Red Reserve; 2012 The Big O Red Bordeaux-style blend (their best seller); and 2013 Pheasant Hill Vineyard Syrah, a single vineyard wine. Prices range from $13.95 to $42.95 and there is a 10% off case discount. Be sure to try the wines from their limited Single Vineyard Series, which are produced only when a superior vintage is available.
Unionville wines are available at some New Jersey restaurants such as The Strip House, Restaurant Latour, Stage Left and Catherine Lombardi, but the ride to the winery takes you through bucolic landscapes making for a delightful day trip. The tasting room, which is open daily from noon to 5 pm is on the second floor of a red barn built in 1858. There are windows where you can look at the stainless steel tanks in the production room. Tours of the winery and vineyard are available on Saturday and Sundays and the vineyard can be rented out for private events.
9 Rocktown Road
View from the tasting room.
Lowell and I tasting wines with wine-maker Cameron Stark (third from left) and GM John Cifelli.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
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