In his book Inventing Wine Paul Lukacs cites balance, length and depth as the three factors that we use to gauge wine. Perhaps. Then again, just as everyone has a different definition of balance, length and depth, everyone has their own reasons for getting into wine. Personally, I'm into wine for the sensory rush of a tasting, as well as the social and even intellectual curiosity of the experience. Simply put, if Lukacs rates on balance, length and depth, I rate on flavor, personality and vibe.
Man, there are some gorgeous vibes at Cream Ridge Winery.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I were fortunate enough to attend Cream Ridge Winery's 25th Anniversary celebration. A lovely 2-day affair featuring live music, BBQ and tastings inside and out, this event was the perfect example of the fun you can have at a winery on a weekend afternoon. Families with kids on picnic blankets, bridal shower parties, couples young and old soaking in the springtime sun - these are good vibes.
A tour of the facility was given by founder Tom Amabile. Knowledgable and sweet, Tom not only gave us the history of the vineyard, insight into the tanking and bottling processes, and great tips on corking, we were also introduced to his lovely wife Joan who passed through to announce that more family had arrived, including their cousin Vinny. (It's a Jersey thing.) After giving Tom a helping hand with some extra chairs we were treated to a taste from the tank - the Eastern White, a sweet Niagara clear, clean and crisp from the steel tank where it sat ready to be tapped.
Known for its fruit wines, Cream Ridge has an extensive list of reds and whites as well. The Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc were both flavorful, light-bodied whites in their own right and the Muscato Amabile put the Barefoot stuff you find on the rack to shame. The Cab Franc, Chambourcin and Red Zin were just as dry in their own right with some powerful tannins.
Favorites included the Raley's Red - their Chambourcin blended with NJ blueberries. The Chambourcin's tannins and the fruit balanced nicely creating a unique red that could serve as both a table wine as well as a sipping sensation for dryer drinkers.
The Cherry - the description reads pie and that is no lie. This Governor's Cup winner is meant to be savored; not too sweet, nor to tart, this is a just-right cherry wine that begs for a summer afternoon.
Both the Cranberry and the Blueberry hit acidic and fruit nodes like a tightrope walker at Barnum & Bailey's. Walk the line with these fine wines.
AlmondBerry - There's a reason we left with 2 bottles. This fantastic blend of raspberry and white wine with almonds is legendary for a reason. Sweet with a slightly tangy finish. Sipping with appetizers or savoring for dessert, this wine will become one of your best cellar friends.
Javaberry - Blackberry, chocolate and espresso make for a menage a trois for the tongue. Wow, what gorgeous coffee flavor. Drink this and you'll never waste your time with an Irish coffee again.
Kiwine - Premiering at this event, this kiwi-infused Niagara blend is sweet, light, tropical and begs to be served at your upcoming summer party along with the Frozen Sangria (we loved the Red - a perfect sweet/tart blend!).
Pineapple - Ok, so we've been before. This gorgeous stuff wasn't available at the fest (they were in the process of restocking) but we were able to snag a bottle from the back when we checked out. What gorgeous stuff - and you won't find anything else like it around here. It's pineapple in a glass - tangy, fruity wine. Drink it out back, with a Hawaiian pie. Don't miss this!
Visit Cream Ridge for the experience. The festival was $5, but we've been in the past and the tastings on a non-event day have been free. You will not leave empty-handed and you'll have one heck of a good time!
PS - Turn left out of the winery and head to Allentown for a fun afternoon of shopping and dining. Turn right and hit up the back 9 at the local golf course.