Beneduce Vineyards Review
Address: 1 Jeremiah Lane Pittstown,New Jersey 08867.
Tasting Hours: Wed, Thurs, Sun 12:00-6:00, Fri-Sat 12:00-8:00
Region: New Jersey
Reviewer: Charlie Toms
Review Date: 2/22/2014
Reviewer: Charlie Toms
Beneduce Vineyards bubbles with youth. The winery is run by Michael Beneduce Jr. and Justen Beneduce Hiles, a 20-something brother-sister combination whose family has been farming for four generations. Mike Jr., a graduate of Cornell Universitys Viticulture & Enology program, is the winemaker and vineyard manager. Justen, a graduate of Rutgers Universitys agriculture school, is the marketing and event director. In 2000, their father, Michael Beneduce Sr. purchased a 51-acre farm in Pittstown in western New Jersey to supply a garden center that he owned. Nine years later, a vineyard was planted, and Beneduce opened to the public in 2012. The winery currently has 10 acres of grapes under cultivation, and produces 3,000 cases of wine per year.
Beneduce (pronounced ben-ay-DOO-chay) primarily grows and produces wine from aromatic varietals. Fifteen types of grapes are currently being used Blaufrankisch (Lemberger), Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, Chardonnay, Corot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Malbec, Noiret, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Syrah. It is the only winery in New Jersey that produces wine from Noiret, which is a red hybrid grape developed in New York in 1973. Beneduce is not located in an official viticultural area, but is a member of the Garden State Wine Growers Association and Vintage North Jersey, a subsidiary of the GSWGA. Almost every weekend, the winery hosts live music, with bands on Saturday night, and solos or duos on Sunday afternoon.
The vineyard is located next to a housing subdivision and the entrance is marked by a large stone and wood sign. The winery has a series of greenhouses across from a large patio with tables and a fire pit. One of the greenhouses, nicknamed the Tropical Oasis, is used for events and includes tables and chairs surrounded by fig, palm and citrus trees. The tasting and production facility, which was formerly a storage barn, is a white and green building with very large windows and lantern-style lights. The inside of the building looks like a warehouse and has stainless steel fermenting tanks, oak barrels for aging, a landing with tables and chairs, and a long bar next to the windows.
I visited twice, tried eight wines, and on my second visit, I met Mike Jr. and Justen. The service was excellent both times, and Mike was very enthusiastic about the growth of the New Jersey wine industry. The Chardonnay is aged in oak sourced from four different forests. Light-bodied and fruity, it could be paired with mildly-flavored chicken. Tuxedo is a white Pinot Noir, and not surprisingly tasted like a strong rose wine. Three Windows White is 95% Riesling, 5% Traminette, and is named for the giant windows in the tasting room. Aged in stainless steel, the wine had a crisp finish and would go well with salmon.
Blueprint is made from Blaufrankisch grapes and was dry with a spicy kick. I would pair Blueprint with bratwurst or other sausage. Centerfold Pinot Noir and the Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blend were both dry and full-bodied, but somewhat bland. Shotgun Red is a blend of Chambourcin, Corot Noir, and Noiret, and is so named because of shotgun shells found when the family planted these grapes. It was lighter, a bit less dry, and was served at cellar temperature. Serve Shotgun Red with hamburgers at a barbeque. My favorite wine was the Cabernet Franc. Aged in American oak, it was bursting with a complex array of flavors and a soft finish.
Beneduce Vineyards has an energetic vibe the employees are young and enthusiastic, many events are held here, and the winery is willing to experiment with less common grapes. The winery is open Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from noon to 6 PM, and Friday and Saturday from noon to 8 PM. They charge $5 to taste five wines, or $10 for a wine tasting and cheese platter. Beneduces wines cost $15-$35 per bottle and are sold on-site and at a handful of New Jersey restaurants. They can also be shipped to residents of New Jersey and New York.