I have a pretty tough day job. Especially when the winemaker makes me taste wines from the barrel. Those are such difficult days. You should really watch out for the next Syrah. It’s quite yummy.
Seriously, we all work hard here at the winery. Everyone in the local food and agriculture industry does. Most of us realize we could be making more money elsewhere, and let’s face it, the cost of living in New Jersey is pretty darn high.
Yet, you see us at markets and in tasting rooms. We offer tours and special events. We arrange festivals that bring thousands of people onto our property. We smile and serve and share our stories.
We do what we do because we love it. The winemaker and I recently met with representatives from Cherry Grove Farm, a farmstead creamery and meat producer in Lawrenceville, NJ. (Shameless promotion warning: I love their Havilah and Toma cheeses.) We met at a local farm-to-table restaurant (which only had one local wine on their wine list – let your local restaurants know you want local wine). Of course, we ordered the cheese plate to sample some of Cherry Grove Farm’s products.
Over drinks and small plates, we shared our own food stories and discussed the state of the local food and agriculture industry in New Jersey. We all agreed that we need to keep doing what we do not only because we are passionate about food and wine of exceptional quality, but also because we need to preserve farmland. And the only way to do that in a state like New Jersey is to produce value-added products, employ creative marketing strategies, and host both fun and educational events.
When I was younger, I saw the farm near my home razed and townhouses built in its place. I picked pumpkins there! I was devastated and wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper. That’s how I found my way into agriculture. And I love it.
Support your local farmers, and remember: we come in all kinds: from orchardist to cheesemaker to vintner.
May we be so bold as to suggest a great way to spend an afternoon in the area:
1. Pack just the supplies in your picnic basket. Make sure you have plates and knives.
2. Visit Cherry Grove Farm. Pick up a selection of cheeses.
3. Stop by Terra Momo Bread Company in Princeton or Brick Farm Market in Hopewell. Choose a selection of breads (and maybe a dessert).
4. Finish up at Unionville Vineyards. Taste some wines. Have a picnic.