For centuries, wine and romance have been passionate bedfellows. That’s what makes Tomasello Winery an attractive dating destination for this or any spring.
Occupying more than 70 acres of pristine, secluded farmland in Hammonton, Tomasello is one of the oldest wineries on the East Coast. Under the watchful eye of third-generation vintners Charlie and Jack Tomasello, the winery boasts more than 30 varieties of grapes—including American and French hybrids—and yields 24 varieties of wine, including Cabernet Franc, Riesling, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz, all made from estate-grown fruit or fruit from local farmers.
For romantic oenophiles, Tomasello offers daily wine-and-cheese tastings in an elegant tasting room dripping with old-world charm. And while the winery doesn’t serve food to small parties, Charlie Tomasello says visitors can pack a picnic lunch and sit in the archway courtyard on warm afternoons.
“I’ve seen a lot of people get engaged under our gazebo,” says Charlie. “We can even arrange to have some bubbly and cheese and fruit brought out if you’re going to pop the question.”
In addition to the Hammonton facility, Tomasello has tasting rooms in Lambertville, Freehold and historic Smithville, each with its own unique atmosphere and nearby attractions. “If I were going on a date, I’d definitely choose the room in Smithville,” says Charlie.
And for good reason. With more than 70 shops and several inns and restaurants, Smithville (smithvillenj.com) is a fun destination for an afternoon of fine wine and hand-held walks through a quaint enclave of cobbled streets and vintage storefronts. After your tasting, you can dine at the Smithville Inn or Fred & Ethel’s Lantern Light Tavern. The inn is all about colonial comfort food and cozy environs, while
the tavern offers a more casual dining atmosphere and live music on weekends. You can even book one of the 24 rooms and suites offered at the homey Colonial Inn bed and breakfast.
If you really want to impress, treat your date to the Opera Gala at the winery itself. Held in the elegant Vintner’s Room, the gala (which is staged four times a year) is an afternoon that features fine wines, a four-course gourmet dinner prepared by the winery’s executive chef Peter Farinella and four hours of live opera. This spring’s gala will take place May 15 and 22. Each matinée begins at 2 pm and tickets cost $65 per person. Reservations and payment are required in advance.
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