The thought of a second career as a winemaker doesn’t seem so crazy, something you might daydream about to distract from the obligations of the moment. But, seriously…..a winery? While one of us had an agricultural background, having grown up in a small central Illinois farm town with a cornfield across the street, gaining the benefit of the experiences of an avid do-it-yourselfer and amateur winemaker father, an Italian immigrant grandfather, the former bartender in a depression-era speakeasy, who taught pruning of backyard grapevines and a mother who encouraged her sons to do anything they found interesting, as long as they gave their best effort. The other, a city girl raised in Boston, the first in her extended family to earn a doctorate, had no experience in agriculture whatsoever. And, it wasn’t that we wanted to put what we had learned in our scientific careers to good use, one of us as a molecular biologist with an early research focus on “the awesome power of yeast,” the other a world renowned investigator of the genetics of human taste perception. The crazy part was over 6 years ago when Beverly asked: “what would you think of starting a winery, ha, ha, ha?” But rather than laugh it off, muttering something like “just because we like wine doesn’t mean we know anything about making wine”, Mark said, “let me think about it”….and so our crazy adventure began.
We started in 2016 with an 8 acre tract of hilly farmland next to a couple of attractive ponds and plans a-plenty for development of the inaugural block of our Avventura Vineyard, near Allentown, NJ
Now it’s late in 2020, we’ve finished our first harvest with fully mature grapevines and learned a lot about wine-growing
The old adage, “great wines are made in the vineyard”, appears to be close to the truth. Over the past few seasons, we’ve been making small vintages using grapes produced by the young, robustly growing vines. What have we learned? That grapevines love the well-drained sandy loam soil of mid-south Jersey. That the famous vinifera of Italy, France and Austria as well as American hybrid varieties flourish in this climate, even if in some years, the remnants of hurricanes can “complicate” the harvest. That all the hard work, from dormant pruning in the cold of winter, planting in between the rains of spring, to shoot positioning, cluster thinning, and deleafing during tropical Jersey summers, occasionally precedes the cool nights and mornings of autumn that are ideal for harvesting beautifully ripe grapes with help from our friends and family.
And the wines? We’re making good progress with small batches of wines made for personal consumption from the 19 varieties we’ve planted. Indeed, our 2019 Estate Riesling won a Gold Medal and was recognized as “Best in Show” white wine at the 2020 Winemaker Magazine amateur wine competition.
We like the wines, but it’s gratifying to know that a group of objective folks who love wine consider them to be well made. Our friends and family seem to like them as well!
So, we’ll continue to refine our crafts, growing fragrant, flavorful grapes and turning them into wines that reflect the land, the climate and the winemaker’s skill. The Crosswicks Creek Estate Winery building is on the way. We hope to break ground in 2021. With luck, inspiration and more hard work, before not too much longer, we will be able to bring our wines to you, with our best wishes, and hopes that you will like them as much as we do.