Owner(s): Beneduce Family
Winemaker: Mike Beneduce
Open to Public
Wed, Thu, Sun 12 to 6; Fri, Sat 12 to 8
1 Jeremiah Ln, Pittstown, NJ 08867
phone: (908) 996-3823
Beneduce Vineyards Profile
Written by Brian—Jul 11, 2018
Throughout the Mid Atlantic there are many wineries of note, many of which are trending toward world-class status. It is fair to say that Beneduce Vineyards in Pittstown, New Jersey is one of those top-tier, world-class producers.
The Beneduces are farmers who—like many agrarian families—made wine for personal consumption. So there was some familiarity with winemaking prior to planting their first vines. They also approached the endeavor without romantic notions and understood that winemaking is at its core an agricultural pursuit.
A line of greenhouses along the approach to the tasting room is still used to raise ornamentals for commercial sale, but in 2009 the primary focus began to shift as grapevines were planted on much of the property. To support this move into viticulture, Mike Beneduce attended Cornell University where he was part of the first class to graduate with a degree in viticulture and enology.
Beneduce Vineyards opened to the public in 2012. As of this writing, twenty acres of estate vines contain ten French and Austrian grape varieties that are used to produce between 4000 and 5000 cases annually.
During our most recent visit, we sat down with Mike Beneduce and tasted through part of his lineup. We had encountered some of the wines previously, but we were still blown away by the overall quality of everything on the tasting menu. The Austrian grapes are the main story, but not the only story. All were wines of note, but a few rose even above that high standard.
Among the whites, the dry-style Riesling and Gewurztraminer stood out, but the Chardonnay was also of extraordinary quality. Blaufrankisch is a signature Beneduce red, but the Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir are potential award winners. It is always encouraging to find a quality Pinot Noir on the east coast and this one is just over the top.
By design, the production area and tasting room share the same space. Fermentation tanks, barrels and other winemaking equipment border the tasting bar and guest seating. In this way, visitors are able to witness the winemaking process. This shared-space concept works and does not detract from the tasting experience.
In addition to amazing wine, music events and locally produced cheeses and charcuterie await visitors to Beneduce Vineyards. Only a short drive from New York City and just south of Interstate 78, the tasting room is easily accessible. In any case, this is one winery that should be on everyone’s short list. After you stop in, please let me know what you think.
Owner(s): Peter Leitner
Winemaker: Matt Parisi
Open to Public
Fri-Sat 12 to 9; Sun 12 to 6
54 Mt Salem Rd, Pittstown, NJ 08867
phone: (908) 735-9359
Mount Salem Vineyards Profile
Written by Brian—Jul 14, 2018
It’s always fun to stumble across a winery that’s doing something different. Mount Salem Vineyards near Pittstown, New Jersey, with its emphasis on all things Austrian, is one such winery. More importantly, they are doing it extraordinarily well. Please read on…
Northern New Jersey seems ideally suited to growing Austrian varietals. Among other factors, the climate is ideal. Despite that, it was not attempted until Peter Leitner started planting vines in 2005. Since then, others have followed suit, but Leitner led the charge. Today he grows Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, St. Laurent, Riesling and Grüner Veltliner among a smattering of other vinifera and hybrid grapes. The Mount Salem wines are produced using 80% estate fruit.
According to Leitner, his is making wine in a historically traditional method. This means that all of his wines see some oak. Wines that are done 100% in steel, Leitner pointed out, is a fairly recent technique. What this means is that many of the lighter, acidic Austrian varieties tend to display more complexity.
Native yeast is another feature of the Mount Salem wines, which is not used widely on the east coast. Native yeast can be less predictable during fermentation. When done right, however, native yeasts can produce wines that are less linear in taste profile and really open up in the mount.
That complexity was on display even in the pair of Grüners I tasted. I will say that oak was more prominent on the nose, but tended to be less obvious on the palate. If anything, it added depth without undermining the fruit and acidity that are important Grüner attributes.
St. Laurent is a grape not often encountered in the Mid Atlantic. For me, the single-varietal St. Laurent was the most interesting wine on the tasting menu. It was well constructed in a light style reminiscent of Pinot Noir. It was a very well crafted and a star of the tasting lineup.
Mount Salem Vineyards is not known as an event winery. There are a few food-driven events, but you won’t find music on the weekend and the space will not close for weddings. They choose to be known for their wine and that is as it should be.
I strongly recommend adding Mount Salem Vineyards to your list of must-visit wineries. Midway between Philly and NYC, it is an easy day trip. After you stop in, please let me know what you think.
Villa Milagro Vineyards