Turdo Vineyards Review
Address: 3911 Bay Shore Rd. North Cape May,New Jersey 08204.
Phone Number: 609-884-5591
Tasting Hours: Jun-Aug: Daily 12:00-5:00; May & Sept: Fri-Sat 12:00-4:00
Region: Outer Coastal Plain AVA, New Jersey
Reviewer: Charlie Toms
Review Date: 9/28/2013
Reviewer: Charlie Toms
Salvatore Turdo is an electrical contractor and inspector from Northern New Jersey. He was born in Sicily, and grew up on his familys vineyard near the coastal village of Santo Stefano di Camastra before immigrating to the United States at age 14. Sal and his Sicilian-born wife Rosaria (Sara) had long made wine. As part of their future retirement plans, the Turdos bought a woodlot in North Cape May in 1998. The family believed that the areas maritime climate and sandy soils would be good for growing grapes. The next year Sal, Sara, and their son Luca cleared the land and planted grapes. In 2004, Turdo Vineyards & Winery opened to the public.
Turdo currently has five acres of grapes under cultivation and produces approximately 1,100 cases of wine per year. Turdo (pronounced tour-doe) is located near the shore resort communities of Wildwood and Cape May, and is in the Outer Coastal Plain Viticultural Area, which consists of more than 25 Southern New Jersey wineries. Sal has yet to retire from the contracting business, and each week the family commutes between the vineyard and their North Jersey home. Though small, the winery has become well-known, and in April 2009 Turdo was profiled by comedian Jay Leno on The Tonight Show.
The best way to find Turdo is to look for a yellow flag and a black wooden sign surrounded by flowers. From the street, the property looks like a modern suburban house with bushes in front. Upon entering the driveway, fruit trees, a small building, and a patio become visible. The building is where the wine is made and sold, and the patio contains a handful of cafe tables and couches for customers. Behind the patio is a beautiful vineyard. On a nice day, I could envision people sitting for hours on the patio while sipping glasses of wine. The tasting room is painted white and has a large U-shaped marble bar. The walls are adorned with paintings depicting the winemaking process, and there is a shelf behind the bar where the winery displays all of its awards. The entire facility is powered exclusively with solar energy.
Turdo only uses vinifera grapes, and primarily makes Italian wines. They produce wine from twelve types of grapes Albarino, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Nero d’Avola, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah. Turdo is one of only two wineries in the United States (the other is Chiarito Vineyard in Ukiah, California) to use Nero d’Avola, an intensely aromatic grape that is indigenous to Sicily. The winery has two product lines. Turi is Sals nickname, and all their wines made with estate-grown grapes are sold under the brand name Turis. In 2010, Luca expanded the family business by making his own wines using grapes grown at a nearby farm in Cape May County, and these vintages are labeled DiLuca. All of Turdos wines are made with minimal sulfites.
Turdo is very much a family-run business. Sara and Luca were working in the tasting room when I visited, and they make customers feel like theyre at home. I started with DiLuca Riesling and Albarino. The Riesling was dry and smooth, and would go well with flounder or other mild fish. The Albarino was stronger and a bit fruity, but was sharper than I prefer. From the Turis label, I tasted Pinot Grigio, Barbera, Persara, and Nero DAvola. The Pinot Grigio was light-bodied and sweet, but had a slightly acidic aftertaste. It could be paired with a traditional turkey dinner.
The red wines were better. The Barbera was light-bodied and dry. I could see myself at a barbeque, eating a hamburger, and drinking of the Barbera wine. Persara is a Bordeaux-like wine, being a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Sangiovese. The wine was created by Sal for his wife Persara translates to “for Sara.” It was full-bodied and spicy and could accompany a grilled steak. Last I tasted the Nero DAvola wine, which the family considers their signature wine. This was the first time I ever tried a Nero, and I very much liked it. It started soft and fruity, but ended with a burst of tannins.
Turdo Vineyards & Winery is an appealing place to visit, a piece of Sicily in New Jersey. Like much of the Jersey Shore, this is a summer business Turdo closes at the end of September each year, and reopens at the beginning of May. If you cannot make it to Turdo, their wine is sold at a handful of local restaurants and liquor stores. Additionally, they can ship to residents of New Jersey and 38 other states that permit wine deliveries.