Tucked away on a quiet farm road in rural Salem County New Jersey, Auburn Roads Vineyards is a delightful discovery, something I was thrilled to realize is so close to home for me. Auburn Roads Vineyards has a charming European-style “Enoteca” where you can sample wines produced from their own grapes, enjoy light snacks such as artisan cheeses and homemade gelato, and even catch live music performances on Friday nights, with food provided by nearby Di Paolo’s Italian Ristorante.
Of course, all the bells and whistles in the world aren’t going to matter if the wine is no good – but Auburn Road’s wine is very good, some of the best I’ve taste in New Jersey to date. Particularly stunning is their 2009 Chambourcin, which was originally intended to only be used in their Classico and Rustica Italian-style blends, but was so good it deserved its own separate bottling. I had to take home 2 bottles at their $18 price. The 2010 Classico blend we tasted from the barrel was very exciting and they clearly put a lot of work into combining the right amounts of Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chambourcin and aging it properly for a very drinkable, classy red.
I was also surprised by how much I liked their white wines, which I generally do not enjoy as much in New Jersey. Their Pinot Grigio was light, crisp, and not at all sour. The “Battleship New Jersey White” was a fun and drinkable fruity white made from the Cayuga grape, priced at $13.99 with a portion of the proceeds going to support the Battleship. “The White Bottle 2010” Chardonnay was too vanilla and oaky for me, but I really am much more of a fan of unoaked Chardonnay. Of their fruit and sweet wines, I liked the “Kind of Blue 2009” which was a surprisingly light blueberry wine, not at all sticky and syrupy as some can taste. We took home a bottle of “Mad Anthony’s Chase” Spiced Apple Wine for $12.99 as my partner loves good apple wine, and this was a nice one.
Auburn Road Vineyard can host private events including intimate weddings and parties, and always has something exciting going on. I really wish them a lot of success and they will be on my list to visit more frequently, especially to check out some of their music and dinner events in the future.
AUBURN ROAD VINEYARDS – 117 Sharptown Auburn Road, Pilesgrove NJ 08098. Open Friday 4-8pm, Saturday 12-8pm; Sunday 12-5pm. Free wine tastings and tours by appointment. 856-769-WINE.