The Lakewood BlueClaws Jersey Shore Wine Festival is one of my favorite wine events to attend. There’s something comfortable about this experience. The stadium provides ample parking making it easy to get in and get out. The event takes place on the front lawn, which is much bigger than you would think. The layout has a square shape with 2 aisles. The outer perimeter is lined with 12 wineries and the middle section is comprised of vendors and crafts, most of which are wine themed. It’s never over crowded, which allows you to attend with friends and family and sample wines at the tables together.
This particular day, it was a beautiful outside, a perfect wine tasting day. Tom, my husband, and I attended with our friend Dan. Thankfully, they let me lead the way and select whatever I wanted to try. It was a little too warm outside to drink reds, so forgive me for not including more. I tried many wines and here are some of the highlights from the event.
Four Sisters Winery - Perhaps this is cheating. One of the wines I was most looking forward to was Beaver Creek Red from Four Sisters Winery. This is one of my favorite wines in NJ, or in the US for matter. I didn’t buy it last year and I regretted and missed it. So, before sampling it, I already knew I wanted to buy it. Their tent was one of our first stops. We tried this right away and it was still as delicious as I remember it. It’s a perfect concord grape wine. Beaver Creek Red is sweet and refreshing. It’s good for a nice Summer day, but honestly, I’d drink it any time of year. It’s one of their best sellers.
Four Sisters Winery also provided samples of Niagara. It’s a somewhat sweeter white. You can almost tell it’s sweeter by the color, which was more of a golden yellow. I also enjoyed their Papa’s Red and Holiday Seasoned. Papa’s Red is a slightly sweet chianti wine. The Holiday Seasoned is the Papa’s Red with spices like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg added.
Cream Ridge Winery - Cream Ridge Winery highlighted their Summer wines at this festival. Their Pinot Mojito seemed to be a big hit. I’m not into the mint flavor, but if you like mojitos, you should try this! We almost bought it just for the bottle. It’s not a typical wine bottle. Instead it resembled more of a beachy Patron bottle. It was a shorter barrel, indicating that you are in for a different experience. Their Kiwine is another special treat with it’s hints of kiwi and lime. It’s not overwhelmingly fruity like some from other wineries. Cream Ridge Winery does fruit wines really well. While there’s hints of fruit, it still captures the essence of the wine. Of their summery offerings, their Sangria was my favorite. It had an effervescent quality. It was the best Sangria we tried at the festival. It was unique with concord, niagara, and citrus flavors.
Bellview Winery - My favorite from Bellview Winery was the Fiesta wine. I’m lucky enough that they carry this one at the local liquor store, so I can buy it whenever I want. I’m a sucker for sweet reds and this one often hits the spot. It’s a combination of cranberry and red grape wine. It’s a party in a bottle.
Valenzano Winery – I skipped one of my favorites at Valenzano, the Shamong Red. It’s a sweet red wine made from concord grapes. The Shamong Red and their Red, White, and Blueberry Sangria, which is another delicious wine, are both sold at our local liquor stores. The highlight at the Valenzano tent was the Berry White Cranberry. Many NJ wineries have a red cranberry wine, but their white cranberry is the only one I’ve tried. It was a tasty, unique treat. Again, a little bit on the sweeter side, but you probably could have guessed that. White Cranberry is less bitter and tart than red cranberry and it presents more of a citrus quality.
Wagonhouse Winery – Wagonhouse Winery featured many unique flavor combinations. This seems to be their specialty. They were out of Fallen Quaker, which they said was one of their most popular. Autumn Goddess is another one of their hot wines, which would be a wonderful Fall treat, along with their Ornery Apple. The wine I enjoyed most from them this time around was the Shore Thing wine. I like it so much that I bought a bottle and I’ve thoroughly savored a glass of it already. The sommelier said it’s a combination of peach, honey, and almond. Somehow it captures the essence of Summer.
Monroeville Vineyard & Winery – This may have been my first time sampling wines from Monroeville Winery. We haven’t been there yet and this was their first time at this festival. I enjoyed their selections including their Apple wine blended with their Cranberry wine, which they mixed for us. Their Monroeville Red, a sweet, red, concord wine was my favorite of their wines and one of my preferred wines of the day. I made sure to grab a bottle before we left.
Tomasello Winery – We’ve tried Tomasello wines many times before. There’s a tasting room in Monmouth county that’s near where we live. If you go there, say hi to Anne! One of my Tomasello favorites is their Almondique. In the Fall, I also love their Witch’s Brew. I’ll be adding a few more favorites to the list, their fruit Moscatos. They have a Blueberry, Cranberry, and Raspberry Moscato. The Cranberry was a little bit tart, which is characteristic of cranberry. The Blueberry was delectable, smooth, not too fruity or sweet. Of the Tomasello wines we tried this day, Blueberry Moscato was the best. The Raspberry is also tasty and it really captures the raspberry quality (my mom loves this one.) However, Tom and I preferred the Blueberry. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get this one at nearby stores.
4JG’s Orchards & Vineyards – If you enjoy history in addition to wine, you may really appreciate the Monmouth Blush. It’s a lively, dry rose made with cabernet franc and vidal blanc. They leave the skins on for a couple days to give it the blush shade. I was captivated by the bottle. I love local history and trail blazing women, so I couldn’t help but ask about the label picturing a battle scene with a female figure positioned prominently in the center. I was informed that 4JG’s is actually on Monmouth Battleground and the woman represents Molly Pitcher. This winery is not open every weekend, so certain events and festivals are the only time you can capture their wines. When discussing this with their sommeliers, we discovered that they also provide grapes to many of the other NJ wineries. You can learn a lot from 4JG’s!
I highly recommend attending this wine festival when it comes around annually in June. If you attend other festivals, be sure to try offerings from these wineries!