If you love chocolate and wine, this is your month at NJ wineries
Every day in February is Valentine's Day in New Jersey wine country when The Garden State Wine Growers Association presents the Wine and Chocolate Celebration at participating wineries throughout the state.
The annual Wine and Chocolate Wine Trail will be held on Feb. 12, 13, 19, and 20. About 45 of the state's 50 wineries will take part, said Kenna Wuerker, vice-chair of the association and owner of Hawk Haven Vineyard in Rio Grande, New Jersey.
Some of the wineries participating in this sweet event include Hawk Haven, Sharrott Winery in Camden County, Auburn Roads in Salem County, Hopewell Valley in Mercer County, and William Heritage in Gloucester County.
"We encourage residents of the surrounding states to visit the wine trails in the state and each winery is putting on its own event, obviously the theme being wine and chocolate," Wuerker said.
There will be wine and chocolate pairings, live music, food trucks, chocolate fountains, and sample tastings. Many of the wineries have restaurants so they will be hosting Valentine's Day-themed menus, too.
Wuerker said the wine industry is doing great in New Jersey.
A handful of wineries are added each year.
The wine and grape industry in New Jersey has contributed greatly to the economic strength of the state. It had a total economic value to the state of just over $323 million in 2016, a nearly 40% increase from 2011.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture also reports that state wineries produced almost two million gallons of wine with a retail value of almost $30 million in 2016.
Once the wine and chocolate trail double weekend event wraps up, Wuerker said several other cool events are coming up.
There will be wine tastings daily. Some wineries will be hosting Sunday winery music series, a sip n' soup event, a Mardi Gras wine pairing dinner, winemaking courses, and more.
Then as spring arrives, she said the vineyard spaces will open up with picnic tables outdoors with everyone spilling out onto the grass and families running around having fun. Plus there will be Mother's Day brunches and Father's Day events.
For more information, visit www.newjerseywines.com. That's the Garden State Wine Growers Association website. Wuerker said there will be a listing of each of the wineries and the events that they're hosting for both weekends of the "Wine and Chocolate Celebration."
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