Valentine’s Day Wine and Chocolate: Heritage Vineyards

My husband and I usually don’t do anything special on Valentine’s Day because of all the February birthdays in our family. This year, however, since Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday, we decided to attend a wine and chocolate event at Heritage Vineyards. (This was a New Jersey Wine Trail event, and wineries throughout the state had wine and chocolate events.)

The obligatory Selfie

The obligatory Selfie

We’ve been to Heritage Vineyards before, and we like many of the wines they produce. The vineyard is located in Mullica Hill, NJ. There were three ticketed time slots for the event (also held on the 15th), and we went to the last one, which began at 4 PM. I really know very little about wine, so these are simply my impressions and not a review. After checking-in, we received our glasses, and a woman, who poured us a Moscato Spritz, greeted us with a “Happy Valentine’s Day”. The drink was light and refreshing. We then moved to the Wine and Chocolate Pairing, held in the heated tent.

Wine and Chocolate Pairing

Wine and Chocolate Pairing

The woman who poured for us (I believe her name tag said Kim) was great. She was knowledgeable and friendly, despite having been there since 9 AM. The pairings all worked very well, even though some of the wines were not wines we’d choose to buy. I really enjoyed the Late Harvest Chambourcin, a port-like dessert wine. I’m not a fan of sweet wines, but this was a great dessert wine that worked with the dark chocolate drizzled Oreo. (I’m also not really a fan of Oreos, but it was delicious with the wine.)

I like wine.

I like wine.

We then did the Dry Wine Flight. I don’t know the young man’s name who poured our wine, but he was also very helpful and knowledgeable. I don’t always like Chardonnay. Sometimes I think it has a weird grapefruit taste, but maybe that’s just me. I do like this 2013 Estate Reserve. My husband and I both enjoyed the 2011 Merlot, which to me has sort of a silky feel. The 2011 Malbec was interesting. I thought it had a bit of pepper in the finish. Each wine sample was more than a usual “tasting,” so I have to admit I was a bit buzzed by the time we finished. Fortunately, my husband is not such a lightweight!

Here are the wines in the Dry Wine Flight:

Dry Wine Flight

Dry Wine Flight

After the Dry Wine Flight, we wandered around the Tasting Room/Gift Shop. Although there was a musician, Dave Kelly, who provided live acoustic music, there was no seating available to make the event into a linger-around sort of thing. We purchased a bottle of Merlot to take home with us, and then wandered over to The Truffle Tree chocolate store next door.

When we got home, I made some sweet potato nachos (note to self, slicing potatoes after visiting a winery might not be the best idea). I’m not certain that the sweet potato nachos and the Merlot made the best pairing, but it was great with the Italian Espresso Truffle I ate afterwards.

Sweet Potato Nachos

Sweet Potato Nachos

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Italian Espresso Truffle From The Truffle Tree

I hope all of you experienced something sweet on Valentine’s, too!

In Vino Veritas

“Wine is Sunlight held together by water.”
–Galileo

This past Sunday was my birthday. To celebrate, my husband and I went on a trolley tour of 5 local wineries. Wineries in S. Jersey? Yes, indeed. There are close to 50 wineries in the state of New Jersey–and more appear each year.

Two Bridges Wine Trolley Tour

Two Bridges Wine Trolley Tour

The trolley tour was a fun way to visit several wineries in one day—and to sample their wines!  The tour lasted about six hours, and it included a lunch stop. We began and ended at the Cedarvale Winery, where we were each given a tote bag with dividers in it to hold 6 wine bottles, a wine tasting glass, and admonitions to drink plenty of water, eat, and pace ourselves throughout the day. Although each winery produces a variety of wines—white, red, sweet–each winery/vineyard has its own unique character and wines. Some of the places, such as Heritage Vineyards, the oldest winery in the group we visited, are wineries that found a new way to sustain family farmlands.

The wineries we visited were:

Auburn Road Vineyard and Winery, Pilesgrove, NJ
Cedarvale Winery, Logan Township, NJ
Heritage Vineyards, Mullica Hill, NJ
Monroeville Vineyard and Winery, Monroeville, NJ
Wagonhouse Winery, Swedesboro, NJ

It was a particularly fun time to visit the wineries because each was decorated for the holiday season. Some of the tasting rooms had fireplaces and included warmed spiced apple wine in their samples of wine to taste. But I imagine the tours would be fun at any time of year.

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At Auburn Road Winery

We learned that sweet, fruity wines are very popular in S. Jersey. Although they do not particularly appeal to me, I’m pleased they are made from the locally grown fruit—apples, blueberries, peaches, and even tomatoes. Wine is indeed sunlight held together by water.

In the musical, The Sound of Music, the oldest Von Trapp daughter, Liesl, who is “sixteen going on seventeen,” sings, “I’d like to stay and taste my first champagne.” I don’t remember at what age I first tasted wine. I imagine I was a teenager, and it was Manischewitz at a Passover Seder–which probably kept me from drinking wine for a long time. During college we had some wine and cheese nights. We ate some good cheese from the local farmer’s market, and some mostly not-so-good cheap wine from the local state store. We were young, foolish, and knew nothing about wine.

My parents were not really wine drinkers. We didn’t have wine in the house regularly. Perhaps they drank some in restaurants, or had some on special occasions. It was the era of cocktails—not that my parents drank cocktails at home either. (If you read my blog regularly, then you probably know food has always been my family’s drug of choice. We love to eat.  When we’re not eating, we’re talking about food and eating, or we’re planning what we’re going to eat next. Well. . .maybe that’s just me.) But when my parents went out, I assume they drank cocktails. They used to go to one nightclub in Dallas, and when their vocalist friend, Enrico, was in town, they would take my little sister and me to see him. My dad ordered “Shirley Temples” for us, and we felt grown up.

So wine. Yeah, I enjoy it, but I’m not an expert. I don’t have a wine cellar, like some dear friends have. I don’t order cases of my favorite wines. But I suppose I’ve developed a more sophisticated palate over the years. I’ve also learned that red wine and dark chocolate are pretty amazing together. (See? It all comes back to food.)

In vino veritas? I don’t know that wine has brought me truth, but perhaps the truth is out there. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)  In any case, you might want to have a glass of wine while you ponder truth, or the meaning of life.  Or you might simply want to say, L’chaim, to life, as you raise your glass—and then eat, of course.  Thanks for reading!