Sunday, May 12, 2013
Willow Creek Winery - Cape May, NJ
This is one hell of a gorgeous place.
If you ever find yourself in Cape May (which you should - for the beach, the Victorian setting, the great shops and eateries, and especially the wine) you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't venture out past the town, towards the lighthouse, and make a hard right into what looks like the middle of nowhere.
Nowhere, or rather 160-168 Stevens Street in Cape May, NJ, is home to Willow Creek Winery. South of the Mason-Dixon line, you'd easily confuse the 50 acre farm for an antebellum plantation. A gorgeous historic private home shining out yellow against the clear blue sky signals you're at the right location. Follow the dirt path down-a-ways to a newly built tasting room ready to entertain. (Brides, don't blink twice if you're looking for romantic seclusion.) Inside, you'll find a broad, open space with an outdoor patio and, most importantly, a wine bar ready for tasting.
Out of the 14 wines on the list, 10 were available for tasting. Technically there are 2 labels happening here - Willow Creek, pulling grapes from the estate, and Wilde Cock, named after one of the owners, which is a mix of farm-grown grapes and ones shipped in from out of state.
Don't miss the 2011 Malvasia Blanca (White Estate Wine). Barrel fermented and lightly oaked (in other words, it starts out in barrels and finishes in steel tanks) this Malvasia proved to be an aromatic, light-bodied white with a unique flavor that balances both dry and fruit-forward characteristics. Uncommon to the Jersey pallate, this wine proves a special treat due to the fact that Malvasia is a Mediterranean grape. Kudos to the folks at Willow Creek for having the guts to plant some different vines!
The Bacchus Red proves an enjoyable estate blend of 3 grapes - Merlot, Chambourcin, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I've always enjoyed a good blend and this is no exception. The fruit breathes into this medium-bodied wine, making it a great dryer table wine for otherwise sweet drinkers.
Wilde Cock Red is a delightfully dry specimen. Dubbed by the winery as their "very own Dago Red" this is a blend of estate Merlot and Shiraz from Washington state. Reminiscent of a chianti of sorts, this is your pasta wine, guaranteed to please the most discriminant of dry drinkers at your table.
You can't taste wine in Jersey without throwing at least some fruit in the mix. The Wilde Cock Apple is made to impress from 100% NJ apples. A delightful treat, this wine captures the sweet-tart essence of apples picked right at the farm.
The Wilde Cock Southern Sangria, sold by the refillable jug, changes weekly. A mix of the Wilde Cock Sweet and fruit flavor, the flavor of our week was Strawberry. If you loved Jolly Ranchers as a kid, this will be your favorite. Personally, I tasted more sugar than wine and longed for more fruit in the mix, but this hit my husband's sweet tooth and proved the winner of his day.
Tastings are $10, which is slightly steep, but not terrible considering a tour of the winery is incorporated into your fee. We visited on a Saturday while an event was in progress - while our servers were extremely attentive, they were running fast; if you're looking for a more intimate experience, a weekday visit is highly recommended.
Find an additional review at Hudson Valley Wine Goddess.