WINSLOW TOWNSHIP — The region’s newest winery is the brainchild of a father-and-son pair with a long history in the industry.
But this is the first time they have run their own winery, which opened in July.
B.J. Vinton, 45, of North Wilmington, Delaware, and his father, Brock Vinton, found the location for the White Horse Winery on a former vegetable farm on Hall Road, just over the border from Hammonton.
The elder Vinton is a wine collector and has been a partner in vineyards in California, while the younger worked in the wine and cognac industry in France, becoming a process engineer for several manufacturing companies.
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That experience is helpful running a winery, which requires skills in viniculture and manufacturing as well as hospitality, B.J. Vinton said.
There are now more than 50 wineries in New Jersey, and more are in the pipeline to open soon, said Garden State Wine Growers Association Executive Director Tom Cosentino.
Coming soon will be G&W Winery in Rio Grande, Middle Township, and Autumn Lake in Williamstown, Gloucester County, Cosentino said.
The industry continues its strong growth, he said.
In 2015, New Jersey wineries produced 530,144 gallons of wine, compared with 402,339 in 2012, Cosentino said.
“Most of the wineries will tell you one of their biggest problems is not getting enough grapes,” said Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension Agricultural Agent Gary Pavlis. “A lot of them flat out run out of wine.”
He said wineries are trying to talk other farmers into growing grapes.
There is still an enormous reservoir for future growth.
“In New Jersey we are fourth in consumption of wine in the country, but only 2 percent of the wine we drink is New Jersey wine,” said Pavlis. “So we keep on chipping away at that 98 percent.”
He said the percentage of local wines consumed in other nearby states such as Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia is about 4 to 8 percent.
The Vintons started seriously looking for a South Jersey location after the father tasted a wine from Atco’s Amalthea Cellars and was surprised it was from New Jersey. He became convinced the area was the place to open a winery.
The former vegetable warehouse holds the winery, and the Vintons built a large vaulted tasting room with a four-sided bar.
White Horse’s property has a colorful history.
It was farmed by Hammonton native Jack Donio for years and bought from his estate in about 1982 by Hank McNeil, one of the heirs to the Tylenol fortune, B.J. Vinton said.
The Vintons heard it was about to come on the market, and moved quickly, he said.
The winery is now starting its first harvest on 17 acres, and plans to expand the vineyard by another seven acres next year. Grape varieties include cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay, vidal blanc and chambourcin.
Winemaker Seferino Cotzojay, of Hammonton, made what they are selling now with grapes purchased from other area growers. He was previously an assistant winemaker at Bedell Cellars on Long Island, he said.
White Horse is joining state wine trails and the Garden State Wine Growers Passport program, in which visitors get their passport books stamped at each New Jersey winery. After they have visited all the state’s wineries, they send in the book and are entered into a drawing for a trip to a major wine-producing area, Cosentino said.
White Horse is being added to the new book, which will come out in the fall, he said. Books are available at New Jersey wineries.
The group also has a website with listings of harvest celebrations, festivals and regularly scheduled events at wineries. Visit newjerseywines.com and click on “Events.”