A recent Leith Hall bed and breakfast guest was visiting the many wineries that have opened recently near Cape May. He is a wine expert and was telling us that New Jersey wine is not famous for a reason, but that Cape May county is the exception, that all of the good wine in the state comes from Cape May, that we’re the Napa Valley of New Jersey.
Though I’m originally a New Yorker, I’m not one to scoff at New Jersey’s accomplishments, and good table wine is certainly one of them. A very local favorite is Hawk Haven Vineyards, which gives you the choice of Chardonnay aged in French Oak or Chardonnay aged in stainless steel. I’ve never liked the oaky-ness of California Chardonnay. It always tastes a little too much like turpentine to me Chardonnay aged in stainless however, is refreshing and delicious.
Hawk Haven also produces a small amount of Tempranillo. This is the grape used in Spain to make Rioja, so it’s delicious and fruity and low in acid. A great wine that ages well, and is complex, but without that mouth puckering tannic acid that many big red wines have.
Turdo Winery is one of my favorites. It is so friendly, the wines are so delicious, and you can imagine yourself in Sicily. When Suzie and I spent a month in Sicily a few years ago, we often stopped for a glass of Moscato di Sicilia or Moscato di Pantellerria before dinner. With a great dinner, we could have a great wine like Barolo (which is one of the best red wines in the world) which is made of Niebbolo grapes. Both of these are available at Turdo Vineyards – only a couple of miles from Leith Hall.
Turdo also makes Sangiovese, which is best known as Chianti, fruity and acidic to drink with major meaty dishes like steak or pot roast. They also make a Pinot Grigio which is light and refreshing. I have a classmate who always refers to Pinot Grigio as “eau de pee pee” because it’s usually a yellow wine that’s pretty acidic and not much else. Turdo’s version is good and flavorful.
There are several more vineyards very close to Leith Hall bed and breakfast in Cape May. You can visit them by taking The Cape May Wine Trail offered by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities. A trolley will transport you from winery to vineyard so you don’t have to restrain yourself. In September, the Cape May Food and Wine Celebration offers a debauch of local restaurants and wineries for a taste of the high life. If you visit us at Leith Hall, we’ll be happy to direct you to all of the local vineyards.