Sharrott Winery Review
Address: 370 S. Egg Harbor Rd. Winslow,New Jersey 08037.
Phone Number: 609-567-9463
Tasting Hours: Sun-Thurs 12:00-5:00, Fri-Sat 12:00-6:00
Region: Outer Coastal Plain AVA, New Jersey
Reviewer: Charlie Toms
Review Date: 11/2/2013
Reviewer: Charlie Toms
Sharrott Winery has always taken a scientific approach to winemaking, which is not a surprise considering the technological background of its owners. A little over a decade ago, Larry Sharrott Jr., a retired hospital computer executive with an unquenchable home winemaking hobby decided to start a winery. He and his son Larry III, a software engineer, attended seminars sponsored by Rutgers University, and then enrolled for three years in viticulture and winemaking classes offered through the University of California at Davis. In 2004 they purchased a 34-acre abandoned apple orchard in Blue Anchor, a small town in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, midway between Philadelphia and Atlantic City.
The following year the family planted four acres of grapes, and the tasting room opened to the public in 2008. Currently, Sharrott (pronounced shar-it) has six acres of grapes under cultivation, and produces around 4,600 cases of wine per year. The winery is located in the Outer Coastal Plain Viticultural Area, which consists of more than 25 Southern New Jersey wineries, and is a member of the Garden State Wine Growers Association. Being environmentally friendly, the entire facility is powered by solar energy, and the vineyard is primarily fertilized with manures instead of chemical sprays.
The winery is easy to find, and is marked by a maroon-colored sign. The tasting facility is a yellow rectangular building, and there’s a tent adjacent to the tasting room where Sharrott hosts events. On the day that I visited, there were a number of customers sitting in the tent, sipping wines and enjoying a nice autumn day while listening to one of the many bands that play there. Inside the building is a gift shop with a U-shaped bar made of pine, behind which is the fermentation room. There are wine bottles on the walls, and a chalkboard listing weekly events and special deals.
Sharrott produces wine from ten types of grapes Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, Chardonnay, Fredonia, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Vidal Blanc, and Vignoles (Ravat 51). They also make fruit wines from blueberries, cranberries, and peaches. Sharrott participates in a number of major wine competitions each year, including Atlantic Seaboard, Finger Lakes, and Indy International. At the 2009 Finger Lakes competition, which included more than 500 wineries from 22 countries, Sharrott won Best Chardonnay for its 2008 unoaked vintage.
The servers were very knowledgeable, and during my visit, I tried 13 of Sharrott’s wines. Pinot Grigio was dry, light-bodied and slightly acidic. The Dry Riesling was similar, but a bit fruitier. Either one could be paired with a mild cheese. Three Oak Chardonnay, which is aged in oak barrels from France, Hungary, and the United States, was smooth but a little weaker than I expected. Their famed Unoaked Chardonnay was fruity with a crisp finish and could accompany a mildly-seasoned poultry dish. Vignoles was somewhat sweeter, but was generally unremarkable. Riesling was also semi-sweet, but had a refreshingly smooth finish.
Dry Rose is made through the Saignee method, where juice which has had limited contact with grape skins is bled off from a vat of red wine must. Though Dry Rose is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, and Merlot grapes, it reminded me of a full-bodied white wine. I would pair it with sandwiches or other picnic food. Winter Spice, which is Chambourcin with spices added fermentation, had a somewhat harsh flavor. Crimson Sky is made from Fredonia grapes and is light-bodied and semi-sweet. It’s one of Sharrott’s top sellers, and can be used as a party wine.
The dry reds were much better. Tango is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend, and tasted like a good Bordeaux wine. Aged in American oak, Cabernet Franc was similar to Tango, but even drier. I really liked this wine, and could see myself drinking it while eating a duck dinner. When I thought my tasting was finished, one of the servers suggested that I try their Chambourcin. It was as dry as the Tango, but much stronger and smoother. It was the best Chambourcin that I’ve ever had! This very masculine wine needs a giant steak or game meat to accompany it.
Extensive planning and engineering precision has led to award-winning wines. Sharrott frequently hosts events at the winery and aggressively promotes its wines. Their wines are sold at more than 20 New Jersey restaurants and liquor stores, and in 2013 Sharrott became the first winery in the state to have a theater as an outlet where its wines are available by the glass. Additionally, their wine is sold at festivals around the state and can be shipped to residents of New Jersey and 38 other states that permit wine deliveries.