Local vineyards have been popular for a while now, and while we’ve always been fans, we’re happy to see them grow as actual destinations rather than stop-and-sip locales by way of a winery tour. Sure, sampling local wines at a vineyard is part of the draw, but these days, there’s a lot more to do than simply sip vinos.
1. Live music
Most vineyards have live music, but one of our favorite series of summer events is the Rootstock Vineyard Concert Series at Hawk Haven Vineyard. The concerts take place at 4 p.m. most Fridays throughout the summer, and each features music, stunning sunsets and local food trucks. This Friday, check out music from Big Village Little City and food from Hit the Road Jack, Jenny Mac’s Winey Snacks, and Taco Shop. Located at 600 S. Railroad Ave. in Rio Grande. Go to HawkHavenVineyard.com for more information.
While Willow Creek Winery has plenty going on most days of the week, we’re still in love with their Fire Pit Fridays. Held throughout the year, this weekly event features live music from local musicians from 6 to 9 p.m., a farm fresh menu and wines, of course. While you’re there, try one of their special sangrias and then grab a bottle to relax by the fire pit. Located at 160-168 Stevens St. in West Cape May. Go to WillowCreekWineryCapeMay.com for more.
3. Tapas brunch
What better way to start the day than over brunch? Throw in the gorgeous scenery of Cape May Winery — plus specialty wine cocktails —and we guarantee a “Sunday funday.” Brunch starts at 10:30 a.m. Sunday with live music at 11 a.m., and features a tapas menu in addition to their regular menu. Located at 711 Townbank Road in Cape May. Go to CapeMayWinery.com.
4. Beer vs. wine
Head to Renault Winery at 6:30 p.m. this Friday for some friendly and fun competition. The beer vs. wine competition features Renault Winery Wines taking on Hidden Sands Brewing Beers in a course-by-course showdown. With four courses in all, this is bound to be a contest everyone wins. Located at 72 N. Bremen Ave. in Egg Harbor City. Go to RenaultWinery.com for more.
5. Happy hour
What could be happier than happy hour? Kick off your weekend with some sweet vineyard vibes at 4 p.m. Friday at Jessie Creek Winery. In addition to the wine, check out the music of C. Lynne Smith, whose style ranges from traditional country with a modern feel to folk and more, as well as fusion food from Trade Winds Cape May. Located at 1 N. Delsea Drive in Cape May Court House. Go to JessieCreekWinery.com.
6. Wine-pairing dinner
Get to Natali Vineyard at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday for a five-course tapas menu prepared by Chef Mark Kalla, complete with a choice of two wines with each serving. The menu includes grilled sausage with provolone, broccoli rabe, peppers and onions; wedge salad; seafood strudel with Newberg sauce in philo dough; Veal Oscar; and lemon parfait. And wine. We said that, right? Found at 221 N. Delsea Drive in Cape May Court House. Go to NataliVineyards.com.