Tomasello Winery Review
Address: 225 North White Horse Pike Hammonton,New Jersey 08037.
Phone Number: 609-561-0567
Tasting Hours: Mon-Wed 9:00-6:00, Thurs-Sat 9:00-7:00, Sun 11:00-6:00
Region: Outer Coastal Plain AVA, New Jersey
Reviewer: Charlie Toms
Review Date: 7/27/2013
Reviewer: Charlie Toms
Tomasello Winery is the second-oldest winery in New Jersey, having been founded in 1933. Frank Tomasello mostly grew sweet potatoes and berries, but the family farm had also grown grapes since 1888. Upon the end of Prohibition, Tomasello saw opportunity, and drove to Washington D.C. to obtain a federal winery license. For most of its history, Tomasello primarily sold dessert and sparkling wines made from native grapes (e.g., Niagara). Starting in the 1970s, the Tomasello family began planting French hybrid grapes. Today, Tomasello also grows European vinifera grapes, and sells over forty different types of wine. The winery is currently owned by Jack and Charlie Tomasello, the grandsons of its founder, and is a member of the Garden State Wine Growers Association.
Tomasello is located in Hammonton, which is in the heart of southern New Jerseys Outer Coastal Plain Viticultural Area. The winery has 70 acres of grapes under cultivation, and produces around 65,000 cases of wine per year, making them one of the largest wineries in the state. Tomasello produces wine from Baco Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Catawba, Chambourcin, Chardonnay, Colombard, Concord, De Chaunac, Landot Noir, Merlot, Muscat Blanc, Niagara, Noah, Petit Verdot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Rkatsiteli, Sangiovese, Seyval Blanc, Syrah, Vidal blanc, Villard blanc, and Villard noir grapes. It is the only New Jersey winery to use De Chaunac and Villard noir, which are red hybrid grapes developed in France. Additionally, Tomasello makes fruit wines from almonds, apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, and raspberries.
The winery is on a highway and looks like a banquet hall with grape vines growing behind it. The tasting room is relatively small and unpretentious, consisting of a wooden counter with all their wines lined up, and a few works of modern art adorning the walls. Connected to the tasting room via a breezeway is an event facility which has seating for up to 180 people. Weddings are a major part of Tomasellos business. Because of the extensive variety of wines offered, I visited twice, and tasted sixteen of their wines. I met Charlie Tomasello on my first visit, and he was friendly, but overall I found that the service at the winery was impersonal. The servers looked up answers to my questions about which grapes were used in several of the blended wines, but in general seemed indifferent to customers.
The Chardonnay was my least favorite of the white wines, having a harsh acerbic taste. The Riesling was quite dry, whereas the Pinot Grigio had a very fruity flavor. I enjoyed the Rkatsiteli wine. Rkatsiteli is a grape indigenous to the Caucasus Mountains, and the wine had a unique taste that was both mildly sweet and spicy. The White Zinfindel was weak and rather forgettable. Cape May Red is a blend of DeChaunac, Landot Noir, and Villard Noir, and is a light red wine. The Chambourcin had been aged in oak for eight months, and had a spicy bite to it. Autumn Leaf is a medium-bodied red wine, made predominately from Baco Noir grapes, and would go well with a hamburger. The Pinot Noir started well, but ended with a very bitter aftertaste. The Syrah, which was cask-aged for 17 months, was stronger-bodied, and could be paired with a steak. The Sangiovese was the best of the reds, having a fruity flavor. I could see myself eating pasta, and drinking a glass of this wine.
Tomasellos sweet wines were noticeably better. Almonique is a white wine flavored with almonds. I couldnt taste the almonds, but the wine was flavorful, and would serve well as an after-dinner wine. The Moscato was excellent, being both smooth and thick, and would pair well with salmon or other flavorful fish. I decided to also try the Blueberry and Raspberry Moscato wines. Blueberry was very good, tasting like the original Moscato wine with a hint of blueberries. On the other hand, the Raspberry Moscato had far too strong of a raspberry taste. The Spiced Apple wine was very refreshing, tasting a lot like apple cider. The Vidal Blanc Ice Wine was truly outstanding it was extraordinarily smooth, and effervesced with the sweetness of fruit. This wine deserves to be paired with the richest piece of chocolate cake.
Theres something for every type of wine drinker at Tomasello. Their selection is vast, and many of their wines, particularly their sweet wines, are very good. The winery is open seven days per week, is very easy to find being directly on Route 30, and has plenty of parking. If you cant make it to Hammonton, Tomasello has four outlet stores in New Jersey. Tomasello wine is also sold in liquor stores and at festivals throughout the state, and can be shipped to residents of 39 states that permit wine deliveries.