Here’s Why Hunterdon Is Finally Being Recognized As a Wine Destination
Pictured is Mount Salem Kitchen founder Peter Leitner and his then-two-year-old-daughter, Sophie-Anne, in their Hunterdon County garden in 2005.
Today, visitors from the Garden State and beyond regularly wind down Hunterdon County roads, stopping at the county’s half-dozen wineries set atop lush grounds, and for good reason.
Wine critics and writers regularly give our local wineries praise. Here at Mount Salem Vineyards, we receive messages from customers all the way in Vienna. Our winery is even in the globally-recognized Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Guide.
We’re not Napa, and we don’t want to be. But what we are is a wine destination that is finally finding recognition, and also one that’s perfect for people who are less concerned with labels and big names and more concerned about quality.
Our high quality makes logical sense. World-class wines are made from grapes in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, including Northern Italy, modern-day Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and southern Poland. Hunterdon County’s climate is very similar that region’s climate. Our same grapes, and thus, wines, prosper equally.
But 40 years ago, that wasn’t possible. Not even close.
After years of efforts, the NJ Farm Winery Act, which was written by Hunterdon County residents, passed in 1983. This finally meant that New Jersey farmers could grow grapes, turn them into wine, and sell the wine to consumers at their farms. A new industry was finally able to flourish in the region, but due to a learning curve, naysayers, and business obstacles, there was a long way to go.
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As the years went by, that path grew smoother. The colossal New York City and Philadelphia markets, which amounts to 20 million people, made their way to the Hunterdon County middle ground. Wine writers, critics and enthusiasts started tuning in. And most recently – even this year – county government started pushing dollars towards artisan beverage and food tourism as well as economic development.
Finally, we’re literally enjoying the fruits of our labor, but we still have a way to go. However, we can get there with your support.
How you can help
Do you drink 12 bottles of wine per year? Then buy one case of Mount Salem Vineyards’ wine – we even offer case subscriptions and case club memberships. In Hunterdon County, there are more cases of wine of wine produced than there are households – so if every household bought one case, all of us would sell out every year.
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Sound like a pipe dream? It’s not. That’s exactly what happens in Switzerland each year – the country’s lovely wine barely ever makes it out of the country. We can get there, too.
Contact us at email@example.com or 908-735-9359 for more information about your case subscription or case club membership.