Take a Whirlwind Tour of Cape May Wineries
By Susan Krysiak Avedissian
Cape May, NJ — If you're looking for something to do on a lazy summer afternoon, consider this: there are four wineries within minutes of Cape May, all open for daily tastings.
They produce award-winning reds and whites from an ideal combination of moderate climate, warm sun, ocean breezes, sandy, well-drained soil, and the passion of dedicated vintners.
Each vineyard, like each vintage, has its own characteristics and personality.
Luckily for you, the vineyards are clustered within 10 miles - close enough for a leisurely afternoon trip. Wine tastings are educational and fun at about $5 - $10 per person. Some vineyards offer tidbits tailored to their wines, but you are welcome to bring your own baguette and hunk of fine cheese.
Start your tour at either end. Plan on spending about an hour at each of the vineyards and you’ll still have time for a nap before dinner. There is nothing like sharing a bottle of wine with friends, but don't forget to designate a driver for the tour.
First stop: Turdo Vineyards & Winery, 3911 Bayshore Road, Cape May, NJ (609) 884-5591.
Turdo Vineyards & Winery is a small family winery just north of the Cape May Canal. Sal Turdo, his wife Sara and son Luca produce limited quantities of its varieties including its unique signature 2009 Nero D’Avola, the indigenous grape of Sicily. Accompaniments include chocolate and panettone. Take a self-guided walk through the vines with the family dog.
Open Thursday through Saturday, 12PM to 5PM. Sunday, 12PM to 4PM.
Memorial Day to Labor Day, Open Daily, 12PM to 5PM.
Second stop: Cape May Winery. 711 Townbank Road, Cape May, NJ
(Travel time: 5 minutes.)
Head north on Bayshore Road and take a right on Townbank Road to get to your next stop - Cape May Winery, the oldest and largest of the four vineyards. This winery has over 150 acres and 16 varieties of grapes. Cape May Winery's owned by the Craig family, who operate the renowned Washington Inn restaurant in Cape May.
The winery has undergone expansions over the years, and is a popular stop. You can lounge on the second floor deck - an inviting place to share a bottle of wine and a picnic lunch. Maps of the vineyard let you explore at your own pace. You might want to come back when you have more time for the 1 1/2 hour tours daily at 3PM during the summer.
Open Daily, 12PM to 5PM. June through September, 12PM to 6PM.
Third stop: Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery, 600 S. Railroad Ave., Rio Grande, NJ 08242. 609-846-7347. (Travel time: 5 minutes.)
Make left on Townbank Road and a left on Seashore Road North - to get to your next stop - Hawk Haven Vineyard, just south of Rio Grande. Owner Todd Wuerker is a third generation farmer who's just finished his first full year of vineyard operation. Hawk Haven Vineyard's tasting room has a tranquil, hip feel where you can spend an hour sampling their vintages. If you're doing your tour on a Sunday, enjoy Sangria Sunday from 12PM until dark, with live music under tents.
Tasting room Summer, Daily, 11AM to 7PM.
Sangria Sundays, Memorial Day until Labor Day, 12PM until dark.
Fourth stop: Natali Vineyards, 221 North Delsea Drive (North Route 47), Cape May Courthouse, NJ (609) 465-0075.
Travel time: 20 minutes
Make a left onto Railroad Ave and and then take a left on Route 47 North to get to your final stop, Natali Vineyards near Cape May Court House. Look for the sign and flag on the left side of Route 47, after you pass the marina and turn onto the gravel road. Natali's a lovely 22 acres with 13 varieties of grapes and a grove of beach plum trees. Al Natali, winemaker, creates inventive vintages including beach plum wine. Sample them in the old world style tasting room. Located on the bayside of Route 47 almost to Goshen.
Open Daily, 10AM to 5PM.