"We're lost." I held the phone with some annoyance. Wineries can be very difficult to find, frustratingly so when a GPS will find the address, but what the GPS thinks isn't accurate... Not the first time this has happened on the NJ Passport wine journey. If anyone else is attempting this, look up directions on the winery's website first! Always!
"The number listed in the passport is the number to the house... Here's the number to the vineyard. Call my husband. He'll help you better." A woman with a kind voice answered us patiently.
I dialed the number, and a gruff voice picked up. "Are you potential customers?" he asked. Answering with the affirmative, he gave me very detailed directions. Jonaid and I pulled in to DiMatteo's Vineyards minutes later.
The tasting structure was quite small and is adjacent to both grape vines and the Atlantic City Expressway. Trucks thundered by as we walked in to the small interior. The new tasting room has only been open a year and a half, and it shines with natural light.
We pulled up to the counter and were introduced to our wine host; a very energetic retired gentleman who operates the vineyard. For $3 you can taste, for $5 you can keep the glass, and if you ever come back with the glass, taste for free again. Mr. DiMatteo offered extremely generous pours.
"I have to do it like this," Mr. DiMatteo explained. "Ladies always get poured first." Throughout the tasting I was always served first, and Jonaid waited patiently to order his next taste until I was ready.
Cab Franc - Heavier than the other wines with remnants of plum.
Red Table - Well done and would easily go with a large variety of dishes.
Pasquale Red - Did not try
Jersey Red - Did not try
Madison - Did not try. I asked what it was though - it is a blush
Chardonnay - A very cloudy wine; the buttery flavor is noticeable but something about it was quite harsh.
Vidal Blanc - Jonaid snagged this taste. I was quite proud of him all day, picking so many white wines. It had flavors a bit of sour apple, very crisp.
Traminette - Did not try
Niagara - Jonaid explained "this smells like cheese". To each their own.
Diamond - "This? This is a beautiful white- a lady's best friend," Mr. DiMatteo explained. Sweeter but good, and very crisp. A summertime drink (perhaps with my diamond girls?).
Cranberry - Did not try
Blueberry - Jonaid tasted this. It's very good and I enjoyed it.
Strawberry - "Do you own a weapon?" Mr. DiMatteo asked. A bit alarmed, I gave him a concerned look. "You know - a bow and arrow, or even a butcher knife, or maybe a baseball bat?" He clarified. I nodded and explained I, in fact, own a weapon. "Good," he continued, "because you'll need it with this. You open it? And your neighbors will attack." I laughed. He poured a generous helping. The aroma was distinctly strawberry, but the thick taste wasn't to my liking. It was a bit too much like a cough syrup, but the heavier taste may sit well with those who like ports.
Jersey White - Did not try
Sparkling Cranberry - Did not try
"How old were you when you started in wines?" I asked.
"Five. My grandma bootlegged."
I laughed. Maybe he was serious. Maybe he wasn't.
"But we have a big grape stomp in September," he continued. "Buffet, band, and stomping. Mostly the women at first, yelling at their husbands to get in there too. They never listen, the husbands - well at first anyway. That's what I do - stand and watch and see all of the chaos, and who wins the battle in the end." He looked at Jonaid. "Listen to your wife - then do whatever you want anyway. That's what I do. 'I'll be there in a second,' I say, but then I don't go... Don't tell my wife." I couldn't help but to laugh.
All wines are sold by the bottle (roughly $10-11 a bottle with the exception of the sparkling cranberry, which is $16.95) or by the glass ($4.50 a glass). Cheers!