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On the Wine Trail: Auburn Road Vineyard & Winery

October 3, 2010

Re-posted from Wine Life Magazine, http://winelifemagazine.com

117 Sharptown-Auburn Rd
Pilesgrove, NJ 08098
856-769-WINE (9463)
www.auburnroadvineyards.com

Hours:
Friday 4pm-8pm
Saturday 12pm-9pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm

History of the Winery: Like many in the winemaking business, the Auburn Road story starts with a hobby. City dwellers Scott and Julianne, with no knowledge of the history of grape growing in New Jersey, planted a small test plot in the backyard of friends and eventual partners Dave and Shannon. Like many before them, their first attempt at making homemade wine was deemed undrinkable. So they ceded future winemaking to Julianne, who has since benefitted from formal training as a winemaker, while the other three would focus on the self-professed crazy dream of building a winery. Eventually adding two more partners in Joe and Jennifer, the team set out to find suitable land in south Jersey to plant their vineyards.

By late 2003, the group had purchased a farm, and Scott and Julianne moved into the farmhouse. Early the next year, they were ready to begin planting their first two acres of grapes, but neither had any experience plowing a field, and they still didn’t own a tractor!  So, with the help of a local grape grower, they became farmers. As Scott recalls, one day their mentor motioned to Scott to climb aboard the tractor, saying “The time comes when a man must plow his own field.”

The Wine: The winery and Enoteca at Auburn Road really sets this place apart. After living near tourist heavy South Street in Philadelphia, Scott and Julianne wanted to create a place that was a destination in itself. Rather than just a tasting room, the Enoteca is modeled after the many wine rooms that Scott was introduced to while living in Italy. A place for relaxed enjoyment of the wine and food, the Enoteca even presents musicians.  With a full calendar of acts and events, the Enoteca at Auburn Road Vineyard is a very cool place to absorb local wine in a unique setting. They have added weekly dinners prepared by a local eatery, another extremely fun event to attend that goes beyond the usual tasting room experience.

The wine at Auburn Road is very tasty. At this stage, they are making mostly blends, a few of which are ambitious for such a young winery.  For example, Classico is what they call a “Garden State Super Tuscan” of Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chambourcin. I found the Good Karma, a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot, to be very satisfying and a good example of what you would expect from a light bodied, food friendly blend; a superb pizza wine. With about 1700 cases made in 2008, I think Auburn Road will be one of the local wineries that helps lead the way towards better quality wines over the years to come.

Here is a list of all the wines that Auburn Road makes, and are available for online purchase through www.hopsandgrapesonline.com:

Pinot Grigio, Good Karma Classico, Merlot, Rosalita Chardonnay, The White Bottle, Sole, Rustica, Kind of Blue, Battleship White, Battleship Red, Blessington, Chambourcin

The Fun Factor: The cozy fun-filled possibilities at the Enoteca are obvious.  Not only are they producing good wines, the ownership group at Auburn Road Vineyard have really raised the bar for fun at local wineries.  Not everyone will be interested in creating a space such as theirs, but all the better for Auburn Road.

Auburn Road is a great place to visit at anytime of the year to try the fruits of their labor. The wine, as stated before, is good and should continue to get even better. I personally liked their Good Karma and Classico, and I hope that these are a sign of more good things to come with dry table wines. Their weekend music sessions are a wildly fun outing, as fun as any other destination in the greater Philadelphia region. So, put Auburn Road on the list of places not to miss, and then plan your return after you’ve witnessed the possibility that is the Enoteca. They keep a full listing of the events and musical acts on their website, and you should easily find a Saturday that interests you enough to make the trip out with friends. Bring a group of friends and you will surely be remembered as the person who discovered this fun-filled alternative to the usual weekend bar scene.

The venue they created has earned them a solid Four Barrels, the youngest winery to score that high on our fun meter!

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