New Jersey is called the Garden State, and you better believe we have the history to back that name up. Since the birth of America we have been growing bountiful crops of vegetables and fruits, but many people don’t realize that we’ve been growing grapes just as long as tomatoes. Our tradition of winemaking goes as far back as 1767, when the London Royal Society of the Arts recognized two New Jersey vintners as having produced the first bottles of high quality wine in the colonies. All from grapes grown in what is now known as the Outer Costal Plain AVA.
The Outer Coastal Plain American Viticultural Area (AVA) covers over 2.25 million acres in Southeastern New Jersey. It was established by the federal government in 2006, but fine wines have been grown and bottled here since those colonial vintners. There are nearly 200 AVA’s currently in the US and we are among the top 10% in size. There are over 20 wineries and commercial vineyards in the Outer Costal Plains, including Hawk Haven.
Our climate here is influenced by the ocean breezes of the Atlantic and the Delaware Bay. This gives us our long growing season, which spans 190 to 217 freeze free days per year. We rarely get the spring frosts that can damage buds or flowers on our vines. Many of the vinifera varieties which are too cold sensitive to be grown in much of the mid-Atlantic region can be grown here in our gentle climate. Southeastern New Jersey vineyards are characterized by relatively flat or low hills and sandy or sandy loam soils. The well-drained soils with low to moderate fertility are excellent for grape growing.
These conditions are among the best in the entire east coast for growing high quality wines, and are favorably compared to many of the best wine growing regions in France. So the next time you’re looking for a wine with history, grown in perfectly suited ground, you’re closer than you think.
Next Week: The harsh winter may have you worried about our vines, but Todd has some reassuring news. We’ll talk about how we’re several weeks ahead of schedule this growing season, and how this is shaping up to be a good year for Hawk Haven.