Who knew? Here in the most densely populated state in the union, we seem to have more “make on premises”, Do-it-Yourself, hands-on winemaking shops than Doan has pills. So if you want to try your hand at making wine, and get a little professional advice and support in the process, New Jersey is the place to be. We’re more than just the turnpike, the highest property taxes in the nation and mandatory full-service gas stations, you know!
Anyway, two of these places I know well – California WineWorks up in Ramsay, and The Vintner’s Circle in both Hackettstown and Whippany, as well as a Pennsylvania location. I’ve visited another, Grape Expectations in Dayton, NJ, and all of them have happy customers. And I’m impressed by the The Wine Room in Manalpan, shown here – they’ve got a huge and impressive barrel room and crush facility. And there are many more, from Cherry Hill to Bound Brook to Freehold to Montague.
Most of these places hold individual or group winemaking classes, and sell winemaking equipment and supplies. Many, though not all, also sell grape juices and juice concentrates, and some even allow you to order whole fruit from Napa and Sonoma among other places, which is then shipped to you for your own personal “crush.” You can often choose the type of barrel to age your wine in, design and print your own labels, and of course bottle the wine when it’s time. You’ll learn a lot along the way and it’s a lot more fun than digging ditches or pulling weeds, if you ask me.
A pretty complete list of DIY winemaking facilities is here.