The Mullica Hill-based, family-owned-and-operated vineyard was named New Jersey Winery of the Year in the 2011 and 2014 New Jersey Wine Competitions, and on Saturday again claimed the highest industry honors in the state.
The award, which is bestowed by the Garden State Winegrowers Association at the New Jersey Blues, Wine, and BBQ festival in Long Valley, NJ, was one of 26 that Heritage received at the annual competition this year, including four gold medals for its 2013 Chardonnay, Brut, and Chenin Blanc wines, and another for its 2012 BDX. The 2013 Heritage Chardonnay also won awards for Best Estate Wine and Best Vinifera, and the 2013 Heritage Brut tied with Tomasello Winery’s NV Sparkling Rkatsiteli for Best Sparkling Wine.
For a family vineyard that has been in the business some 13 years, these victories represent peer acknowledgment of its wine-making acumen, and illustrate to a wider audience the strength of a local product that has grown from modest roots to earn a statewide reputation for quality.
“We are honored to receive these awards,” said Richard Heritage, Director of Sales and Marketing for Heritage Winery. “We are grateful for the recognition from the Garden Sate Wine Growers Association and Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Their accolades definitely motivate us to keep contributing to the standard of excellence that has been established for New Jersey wines.”
Winemaking in the state has taken off since the famous 2012 “Judgment of Princeton,” in which New Jersey wines took three of the top four finishing spots against their French counterparts in a blind taste test from the American
480 Mullica Hill Road in Mullica Hill, NJ 08062 • 856-589-4474 • heritagewinenj.com
Association of Wine Economists. The 2010 Heritage Chardonnay was the third- ranked wine in that competition.
In the time since, New Jersey has joined with Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland in creating the Vintage Atlantic Wine Region, an agri-tourism geographical area roughly the size of the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York.
A similarity in the climates of Napa Valley, southern France and South Jersey has led to comparisons among the grapes grown in all three regions, and the Heritage Winery family of products is based on Bordeaux-style French varietal grapes— cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and chardonnay—that thrive in the temperate South Jersey climate.
“We’re honing in on the absolute best of what our soil can produce,” Richard Heritage said. “There are a lot of great elements here for making wine. We have a sandy loam soil that is well-drained. Our property has a unique elevation, the second-highest in South Jersey, and we get moderate temperatures from the ocean and the river.”
Like the Napa wine region, where apples and peach orchards have yielded to grape vines, the 130-acre Heritage family farm was converted to a winemaking business in the late 1990’s. Today, its fifth- and sixth-generation farmers have taken the bounty of the state and yielded a crop that continues to earn recognition for its excellence.
“Wine and vineyards saved our family farm and kept us in business,” said Richard Heritage. “Today, our focus is on making amazing wine, and our legacy lies in preserving open space in New Jersey.”
“Since our initial Winery of the Year Award in 2011, we have maintained that consistency, and we have improved upon it with an intense focus on research and craft, and I think the results are showing,” he said.
About Heritage Winery
Since 1853, the Heritage family had farmed peaches and apples on its 130-acre property in the heart of the rich Gloucester County agricultural region. In 1999, when the farm was threatened by bankruptcy, a desperate Bill Heritage and his wife Penni planted wine grapes. There were ups and downs as the fifth-generation farmer transitioned the property to a vineyard, but since taking that leap, the Heritages have continued to marry tradition with modern technology and art with innovation to produce award-winning wines. Heritage Vineyards is located at 480 Mullica Hill Road in Mullica Hill, NJ. Visit heritagewinenj.com.