Finally. Finally, finally, the elusive Westfall Winery reopens in the northern half of the state. I've been waiting since, what, roughly, errrr, the second week of January, when I realized this one closed for three months, to reopen. Three long months.
It was worth the wait.
Westfall Winery reportedly closes January - March. I know, I know it's still March, but the gods of vino welcomed the public in early. It opened last weekend. Hallelujah - and goodbye, three northern NJ wineries on the passport.
Jonaid and I pulled into Westfall on this bright Saturday. The sunshine is exceptionally deceiving as the breeze was deadly. We rushed inside.
The small barn was filled with space heaters, leaving the tasting room surprisingly comfortable. Hummus and crackers were set out to enjoy with the free tasting. Our host Eileen (sp?) did a remarkable job of trying us out with the wines and then adjusting our tastes based on our responses.
Pinot Grigio - very light
Chardonnay - did not try
Riesling - Quite sweet, very aromatic.
Eileen asked us if we'd rather pick our wines or let her guide us. We explained our preference of dryer wines, so her tour along those lines would be good. She guided us through the wines with ease - and had Jonaid's tastes pinpointed within two pours.
Merlot - Did not try
Sangiovese - Very tasty. I got a glass at the end.
Old Vines Zinfandel - Eileen informed us these vines are 50 years old.
Malbec - This has an aroma that burns through the nostrils but an extremely smooth flavor.
Barbera - To me, this had a cherry aroma but the flavor was marvelously smoky. Jonaid got a glass of this, and was quite silly afterward.
Petite Sirah - Did not try
Nebbiolo - An extremely fragrant wine that was unfiltered. The flavors were not obvious after the Barbera.
Meritage - an undefined blend of Petite Shirah and others. Another smoky wine, but quite good.
Rhone Blend - Shiraz, Mouvedre, and Grenache but I didn't care for it.
Vino Rosso - Did not try
Pinot Noir - Bravo. Enjoyed it.
Chocolate Orange Port - This had the aroma of a fresh orange peel, but Jonaid described the taste as a chocolate kiss. Eileen explained the ABV is 18%. Personally, I thought it tasted like cough syrup, but I'm not a port fan.
"Do you do weddings?" I asked.
"No." Eileen said. Reviewing her website, weddings are not permitted - but other private events are extremely reasonable, and possibly the cheapest in NJ for the food and the wine. If you're looking for ways to spruce up your family reunion, nothing may be better than a bit of vino.
Strawberry Honey Wine - Did not try
Spanish Passion - "You add an orange to this and you're done," Eileen explained this summertime treat. The peach/orange flavor of this was very obvious.
Blueberry Wine - Did not try
Cranberry Wine - Jonaid and Eileen agreed this was dangerous - it goes down too easy, just like juice.
Apple Cinnamon Wine - Did not try
Raspberry Wine - A sour-then-sweet flavor.
"The Malbec grapes are from Chile. All others are from California," Eileen explained. "The fruit wines are all locally grown in NJ." Although the grapes aren't local, the entire production is. And the wines are done quite well.
Armed with our glasses, Jonaid and I headed outside to the farm.
We also learned that the wine owners operate another winery in Myrtle Beach - Island Winery. So if you're ever in the area, give them a shout. Cheers.