This past Friday was our fifth wedding anniversary. Originally, we wanted to go away for a long weekend somewhere tropical, but neither of us wanted to leave Tommy for that long, not to mention we're trying to be smart with our money in this economy and not be too frivolous - just in case. Instead we did something we've been talking about doing for years. We looked up a few wineries on the way down the shore, and off we went on a wine tasting and touring adventure. We didn't have a game plan per-say, which was different for us...we almost always have a plan.
On the road we chose the first of three wineries we were to visit that day. Sharrott Winery http://www.sharrottwinery.com/ located in Winslow, NJ is a newer winery, and has only been open for a couple years. Despite this, they are already masters of the grape (ahem - and the blueberry)! Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted with a welcoming smile from the owner, whom is a wealth of information - and university trained. He not only served up his best wines - the smooth and breezy award winning un-oaked Chardonnay being my personal favorite, along with the delicious apricot noted Vignoles - but also taught us how to properly "taste" the wine (using both your nose and your mouth), the importance of the right wine glass, and some interesting facts about sugar. By the time we left the winery I had been able to correctly guess the hidden flavors found in several varieties of wines. We truly enjoyed every moment at Sharrott Winery, and I will be practicing my "vino nose" for future quizzing! We hope to go back and visit them again soon.
We had such a great experience at Sharrott, that we decided to immediately head over to Tomasello Winery for another tasting. Tomasello has been around for more than fifty years, and I had heard several accommodating references from people whom had been there for weddings and other special occasions. Immediately upon arrival we noticed a big difference from our first winery experience. The air seemed somehow stuffier, the customer service colder, and the whole place had more of a corporate feel. They were not rude, per say, but we could tell that no sooner had we arrived than the woman who served us two or three tastings could not wait to usher us back out the door. She was a true saleswoman who told us the price of each wine we tried, and not much else. Needless to say, we did not stay long. We did however try their Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, and ended up purchasing a bottle with friends over dessert sometime soon.
Lastly, we arrived at Renault Winery http://www.renaultwinery.com/ - a resort boasting a wonderful gourmet restaurant, two pools, a bar, and a golf course. The grounds were lovely, and the room we rented for the evening was spacious and comfortable. We spent the rest of the afternoon on a relaxing and informative tour and tasting with our personal guide Richard. He knew so so much about wine, the history of not only the vineyard but also nearby Atlantic City, and during the tour encouraged us to try several different wines at once so that we could try and taste the differences in them. Our personal favorites were the Fresello and the Royal Rouge - since you can only purchase Renault's wine at the winery itself, we made sure we picked up a bottle of each for some time in the future. Admittedly, we were feeling quite loose by the time evening rolled in, so we quickly went back to our room, changed, and went for a delicious six course dinner at Renault's gourmet restaurant. The food was amazing. The only thing we chose was our entree, the rest of the courses were at the discretion of the chef, and I found it to be delightful anticipating what mouthwatering surprise dishes he would serve. One after another, we were not disappointed. We spend the walk back over to the resort talking about just how much fun we had during dinner, how truly delicious the food was, and how happy we were to have chosen to spend the day as we did for our fifth wedding anniversary. It was perfection.