I just spent a few days in New Jersey working with the Heritage family who owns and operates Heritage Vineyards in beautiful Mullica Hill, NJ. The family, Penni & Bill and their sons, Rich, Brian, and Eric are all involved in the family business, to greater or lesser degrees. I have to say that Heritage is a great last name to have, and a name that is well suited for a vineyard and winery.
The family owned a peach, pear and apple farm and started out growing grapes in an effort to save the family farm when fruit prices dropped precipitously in the 1990s. It didn’t take long for Penni and Bill to decide that a winery was in their future. They began making dry wines and now produce a full complement of them, including a wine made from Bordeaux varietals (BDX) that took third place in “The Judgment of Princeton” (a competition that compared and rated French wines and New Jersey wines.) Heritage Vineyards brand has at least ten other dry wines, both white and red, all of which are tasty and would be a plus for any dinner table. The dry wines are sold primarily through the tasting room.
When the oldest son, Rich graduated from college (a major in Business from Rutgers) he came home with some new ideas. The family, under Rich’s direction, started their Jersey wines, a brand of sweet wines, with Jersey Blush, Jersey White and Jersey Red grape wines, as well as blueberry and other fruit wines, under the same Jersey brand. These wines are sold through distributors and are flourishing in retail stores throughout New Jersey. The Heritage family members were smart enough to know that in Jersey sweet wine outsells dry wine, and with the addition of the Jersey brand they are able to satisfy the wine wants, needs and desires of most of the wine drinking population of New Jersey. Their very talented winemaker Sean Comninos keeps very busy making both the Heritage and Jersey brands.
Heritage Vineyards was voted New Jersey winery of the year, this year. (The Heritage family has won the title in the past.)
While I was there, we worked on the future direction and plans for the winery, strategy and tactics, as well as staff training. I had some fun working behind the bar with the staff and sold wine to some lovely people.