The wine industry in New Jersey is far more dynamic than most of us may give it credit. It's also demanding for those who work in it.
I was fortunate to sit down with Scott Quarella of Bellview Winery in Landisville who shared a bit about what makes his family's winery tick and how there's more to running the business than meets the eye.
Most people love discussing the history of the Quarella family and for good reason: they have been farming the same land for around a century. But the winery only opened its doors in 2001. However, as I learned from Quarella, they're not resting on their history's laurels, because the landscape among New Jersey wine producers matures and competition intensifies. All wineries, new and old, are going to have to work a little (or a lot) harder than ever to stay top of mind among New Jersey's wine drinkers. After all, more wineries mean more options for thirsty locals, and the greater the necessity to create uniqueness and excitement beyond the wines themselves.
As much as Quarella would like to remain on the farm and tend to the vines like generations of Quarellas before him, he's also responsible for creating, hosting and promoting such upcoming events as Bellview's Summer Concert Series happening on their grounds 4 to 8 p.m. every other Saturday in June and July. An evening of wine, food vendors and good music always is a great excuse to get out and visit a local producer.
These promise to be sublimely enjoyable evenings and a great excuse to try some of their 25 wines (both sweet and dry). For more details, go to BellviewWinery.com.
The challenges don't end at creating unique events and making delicious wines for the growing masses of New Jersey wine tipplers either, Quarella emphatically adds. New Jersey grape growing has inherent challenges, albeit not insurmountable, which make it more difficult to produce quality grapes for fine wine in this climate. The grapes are all estate grown on their 40 vineyard acres but like other agricultural crops, when weather conditions are less than ideal, the quality of the wines and total production is negatively affected. In 2014, the weather conditions were so ruinous that it became known as the “polar vortex” and robbed Bellview Winery of half of their vines.
Despite all these challenges and responsibilities, Quarella keeps an upbeat demeanor and recognizes that, “The more you put into it (New Jersey wine), the more you will get out.”
It's not the wine talking either; with award-winning wines and diverse events such as the Summer Concert Series, Bellview Winery's poised to continue to be one of the pillars of South Jersey wine-making scene.
Bellview Winery is located at 150 Atlantic St. in Landisville. Tasting room hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is free, but it costs $5 for 8 tastes. Call 856-697-7172.
Paul Tonacci, managing partner of Atlantic City Bottle Company and The Iron Room, is a Certifed Sommelier and a member of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs’ Societe Mondiale du Vin. His column runs every other week.