Posts Tagged With: Pinot Grigio

50 Shades of Green: A Very Veraison Affair

Recently, veraison was in full swing at Hawk Haven and you know what that means, right? No? You don’t? Oh… well… this is awkward…

Not to worry, most people have no idea what “veraison” is, let alone how to pronounce it. Todd says it like the word “version” but with an “ay” between the r and s. But fancy Lou pronounces it the French way so it sounds like “vera-ZON” (say it with a French accent). I say it like… well, mostly I try not to say it at all, so instead I’ll just tell you what it is and show you some pictures.

Simply put, veraison is what is happening when the grapes turn from an opaque green to whatever color they’re meant to turn when they’re fully mature. That means your red wine grapes like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are turning different hues of purple, violet, and even blue. Similarly, the white wine grapes like Riesling and Chardonnay are changing to a golden tone, or a more translucent shade of green.

Below are some photos of our grapes in transition. You’ll notice that some varietals are farther along than others. The best way to see them, though, is on our Vineyard & Winery Tour where you’ll get up close and personal with the vines. You can also see more photos of veraison from our 2009 harvest by clicking here.

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio











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What’s in a wine? 5 little-known facts about Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio is one of the top five most widely purchased wine varietals, and what’s not to love? The crisp minerality and bright citrusy flavors make for a refreshing glass of wine to pair with any number of light dishes. We also love cooking with Pinot Grigio; check out this tasty recipe for Chicken Francaise! But there are some things you might not know about this popular varietal, so we put together five interesting facts to help you appreciate Pinot Grigio even more.

1. White Wine; Red Grape

Pinot_Gris_closeEven if you’ve never had Pinot Grigio, you probably already know it is a white wine. But did you know it is actually a red grape? It’s true! The Pinot Grigio grape is named for it’s blue-gray hue, and yet you’ll probably never see a bottle of red Pinot Grigio. How did that happen? To make white wine, the juice is pressed out of the grapes and the skins are discarded. Usually white (or green) grapes are used, but any type of grape will work. With red wine, black (aka red or purple) grapes are fermented with the skins before extracting the juice. The color isn’t coming from the juice, which is mostly clear, it comes from the skins. So why isn’t Pinot Grigio made as a red wine since it is a red grape? It probably has something to do with tradition, as well as the fact that this varietal just tastes better as a white wine.  The grape also has a very thin skin, so even if you did ferment the skins with the juice, you wouldn’t get the kind of rich color you would see in a Merlot or a Cabernet Sauvignon.

2. Early Riser

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio matures rather quickly, and so it is usually one of the first varietals we harvest each year. By picking the grapes as early as late August, we can capture that perfect amount of acidity that really helps to bring out the bright fruity flavors we love in our Pinot. An early harvest also means we can get straight to work making wine! It usually takes around six months to make, so that means it is ready by late winter/early spring. By contrast, our Chardonnay harvested in the same season would only be half-way to three-quarters done, and it would be at least another year before you’d be tasting the Petit Verdot. And once you have your bottle in hand, it is ready to drink! There is no need to bottle-age your Pinot Grigio; it is best enjoyed young.

3. Same Grape, Different Names

Hawk Haven.IMG_0474The name Pinot Grigio is just one of many for this particular varietal. It is traditionally a French grape from the Burgundy region where it is called Pinot Gris, but it is also very commonly grown in Alsace where it used to be called Tokay d’Alsace. The flavor profile there is quite different from the Burgundian version. It is from Italy that the grape gets the Grigio, but rest assured it is the same varietal. In other countries you might hear other names like Grauer Mönch in Germany, Monemvasia in Greece, and Szürkebarát in Hungary. In the U.S. you will see both Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris on the label, but again, it’s all the same, though the winemaking styles may differ from region to region. The fun part is trying different Pinots from different regions or vintages and finding out what differences there are as far as colors, aromas, and flavors. Actually the fun part is all in the drinking, but you can really train your palate to pick up all the difference nuances of a particular varietal when you’re sampling from multiple locations or years.

4. Relative of Pinot Noir

Chehalem_pinot_noir_grapesAlthough there are thousands of different grape varietals out there, many of them are relatives or hybrids and Pinot Grigio is no exception. Many studies of PG’s DNA have revealed a close relation to the Pinot Noir grape. In fact, even on the vine they are so alike as far as cluster and leaf shape that the only way to distinguish the two is the color, a difference attributed to a genetic mutation. Pinot Noir tends to be a darker, almost black grape, whereas Pinot Grigio, as we said before, has a more blue-gray color. And while Pinot Grigio is grown very successfully in many places throughout the world, Pinot Noir can be a little more finicky and requires very particular growing conditions. The biggest difference is obviously that Pinot Grigio is a white wine and Pinot Noir is a red wine.

5. Don’t Be a Hipster

winesnobWine drinking is a culture and like fashion, certain wines go in and out of style. A lot of wine snobs will turn their noses up to Pinot Grigio because it is no longer trendy… or maybe it’s because it is too trendy? Whatever it is, they will spout off reasons like, “Pinot Grigio is too simple, uninteresting,” but the truth is, you can’t make blanket statements like that when it comes to wine. Sure, the mass-produced, cheap versions might not taste so great, and certainly there are some crappy expensive bottles out there. But there are so many factors that go into making a wine, from the growing region and conditions, to the winemaking styles, that you’re never going to taste two Pinot Grigios that taste exactly the same unless it is the same vintage from the same winery made with the same process. I recently did a vertical tasting of Hawk Haven Pinot Grigios; one from every year since 2009, and we were amazed at the divergence of flavors and aromas from year to year. So just because it isn’t “cool” anymore to drink Pinot Grigio, don’t let that stop you. Or maybe you’re one of those uber-hipsters who thinks its cool to like things that aren’t cool to regular hipsters because they are too mainstream. I don’t even know if that made sense, but my point is, drink more Pinot Grigio.

And you can start by visiting our tasting room to try our 2012 Pinot Grigio! Bright and mouth-filling with flavors of Bosc pear, honeydew melon, kiwi, and a lingering finish of grapefruit. It would make a great starter wine if you just want to have a glass before dinner, or try it with a nice shellfish entree. Whatever you do, feel free to share your favorite pairings with us, either here, on our facebook page, or email us at

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Wine Tips: Five Tips for Pairing Wine with Food

winepairingBelieve it or not, a lot of people feel a great deal of anxiety over this one little choice: selecting a wine to go with a meal. This is especially true when they are choosing for a group. How do I know which wine to pick? How can I pick a wine that everyone will like? How do I know if it will pair well with the food? Relax! The choice is easier than you might think, and these five tips will help you along the way.

Tip One: Drink what you like! As we have said before, the most important thing is to pick a wine you enjoy. Ignore all the other factors for a minute, such as red or white, sweet or dry, expensive or inexpensive, chicken or steak. Forget it! What wine do you like? If you’re having guests, what do they usually drink? If you don’t know what your guests like, don’t worry about it, just focus on what you know. It is fun to experiment with different combinations, and over time you will find pairings that you love.

Tip Two: White & Light. Lighter foods like chicken and fish tend to taste better with similarly lighter wines which, generally speaking, are white varietals. Try barrel-fermented Chardonnay with a creamy chicken dish, or a Pinot Grigio for a light, flaky fish.

Tip Three: Heavy & Red. This tip goes along the same line as the second tip. Full-bodied reds will stand up better to heavier foods. Have Merlot with your red sauce pastas or Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice, juicy steak. The idea is to match the robustness of the

Tip Four: Opposites Attract. Sometimes it pays to choose a wine that is on the opposite end of the sweet/dry scale. Sweet wines can be great with spicy foods as they cut through some of the heat and refresh your palate for the next tasty bite. A lot of wine connoisseurs would frown at the idea of chocolate and red wine, but I personally think they are meant to be together. Dark chocolate and a dry red wine with plenty of smooth, berry flavors… pour me a glass!

Tip Five: Similar Tastes. This might contradict Tip Four, but matching tastes and aromas can also produce some lovely  flavor combinations. Let’s say you cooked seared scallops for dinner and you’ve drizzled them with fresh lemon juice. You already know that white wine would be a good choice, but let’s narrow it down a bit. Look for something with citrusy notes, such as Sauvignon Blanc, to match the lemon from the scallops.

I can’t end this article without adding a sixth bonus tip:  Google It! The internet is loaded with information and advice when it comes to wine, and you’re sure to find plenty of wine suggestions with a quick search for whatever you’re serving. Also, the tasting room staff here at Hawk Haven are more than happy to help you come up with something delicious. A lot of us love to cook, and we all love to eat and drink wine (who doesn’t?), so if you’re looking for a good pairing, all you have to do is ask! Don’t forget to share your favorite pairings with us!

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Recent Awards

In the last few months we submitted several of our wines to a few different competitions/wine reviewers and we wanted to share with you the results.

We’ve already mentioned The Judgement of Rittenhouse where our 2010 barrel-fermented Chardonnay was given the opportunity to go up against a French wine of the same vintage and varietal. It didn’t win but it did get the silver at New Jersey Monthly’s wine competition. Some wine competitions award medals based on a point system; they aren’t compared to each other so multiple wines might receive the same type of medal (gold, silver, bronze) depending on how many points it got. At this competition, only one of each type of medal was awarded, so we were especially proud of our Chardonnay for getting the silver.

World Wine Championship

You’ve probably been to the wine section of a liquor store and seen the various ratings in front of the different wines and wondered who exactly assigned them. One of them is the Beverage Testing Institute on We submitted four of our wines to their World Wine Championship this year and here are the results:

2009 Merlot: 88 Points “Highly Recommended” Silver Medal
Ruby red color. Aromas of plum pudding and tomato chutney with a chewy, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a nice kiss of vanilla and peppery spices on the gentle finish.

2010 Chardonnay: 88 Points “Highly Recommended” Silver Medal
Golden yellow color. Aromas of roasted pineapple and toasty meringue with a fruity-yet-dry medium body and a honeyed apple, lemon mousse, fruit salad, and delicate brown spice accented finish. Tasty.

2010 Gewurztraminer: 87 Points “Highly Recommended” Silver Medal
Golden color. Lush fresh baked peach strudel and orange sorbet aromas with supple, fruity medium body and a honeyed golden raisin chutney and apple-pear cider finish. A nice late harvest style gewurz.

2009 Northern Harrier Red: 84 Points “Recommended” Bronze Medal
Ruby color. Aromas of cranberries and tomatoes on the vine with a soft, dryish medium body and a tangy, tangerine and sun-dried tomato accented finish.

This competition features wines from all over the world including California, France, and Italy, so we are always happy to see our wines place.

American Kestrel White- Bronze

2010 Chardonnay- Silver

2009 Merlot- Bronze

2010 Pinot Grigio- Bronze

2009 Talon- Bronze

2010 Viognier- Bronze

2012 International Eastern Wine Competition

2009 Talon- Gold

2010 Viognier- Bronze

2010 Chardonnay- Bronze

2009 Northern Harrier Red- Bronze

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The Grapes, They Are A Changing

Véraison is a viticulture term meaning “the onset of ripening”. The word is French in origin, but has been adopted into English use. The official definition of véraison is “change of color of the grape berries.” véraison represents the transition from berry growth to berry ripening, and many changes in berry development occur at véraison. It’s also what the vines at Hawk Haven have just finished going through.

Pinot Grigio grapes, before véraison.

That’s right, the new grapes have finished their major growth spurt, and are now focusing on changing from a tart, green acidic berry into the sweet juicy berries that we want to change into wine. The first phase of a grape’s life is marked with rapid growth and a build up of water and acids. As the grapes go through véraison and change from bright green to their ripened color, many of the acids break down and new sugars are formed and accumulate within the berry.

The same clusters of grapes, during véraison.

While the change is most noticeable in the dark skinned grapes, even the lighter colored berries go through the same process, changing from bright green to a more golden color. As the change occurs, the grapes also become more attractive to pests such as birds and insects; as the smell of the ripening grape changes from acidic to fruity and sweet. The berries themselves are now more susceptible to disease, and extra care must be taken to make sure that they all have a chance to make it into your glass.

The same Pinot Grigio clusters, post véraison.

The next part of the vineyard schedule is wrapping the vines in nets to protect against the biggest threat; birds!

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Hawk Haven’s 2010 Pinot Grigio

If you hadn’t already noticed, Hawk Haven has released a few new wines in the last few weeks. One of these new additions to the family is the new 2010 Pinot Grigio.

This lively wine abounds with a natural, crisp acidity. The pinot grapes were harvested at full maturity and then whole cluster pressed and cold fermented over a three month period. This delicious wine was bottled young to capture the subtle aromas. As you take a sip, look for flavors like peach, apple and wild honey. A perfect pairing for this wine is sautéed sea scallops. Stop by the tasting room, open every day from 11:00 AM until 7:00 PM, and pick up your bottle today!

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Eat Local;Drink Local (TM): Movement and Event by Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery

Eat Local Drink Local Draft Art

It’s official: Hawk Haven will pair with Sean’s Restaurant to emphasize the environmental and economic importance of drinking local wine. We will kick off the campaign with a weekly small-plate dinner event on premises beginning November 6th.  Pair a beautiful local meal with a local wine.


The first “Eat Local; Drink Local” small-plate dinner will take place on November 6, 2009 from 7-10pm in the Hawk Haven tasting room. Reservations required. $50 per person. Call 609. 846. 7347. Join the movement: “Eat Local; Drink Local”

Yesterday I talked to Sean about local food.  Sean is as sunny as his little orange restaurant.

Messing around with my camera before our interview...

Sean with some local lima beans

He started the restaurant with his wife Jennifer because he loves to cook and, “My wife likes french fries.  We bought a restaurant so she could have them the way she likes them – no one else makes them.”  He’s all about high quality food – that’s why we knew he was perfect for our “Eat Local; Drink Local” campaign and event.

Sean is animated as he explains the importance of local food and wine.  “We all work together.  The more local I buy, the more it keeps everyone else in business.”  As he explained that most of his produce comes from Vineland, he reminded me that local foods just taste better – fresher.  “I’ve grown up eating out of a garden.  And the more people that start eating local food, the better everyone’s food will be.”

Fresh Corn

The “Eat Local; Drink Local” campaign is also about the environment.  Rich Saunders of says, “With all the focus on local food it often becomes easy to forget the climate impact of the manufacture and distribution of beverages. If you live in New York, Hawk Haven’s wines would travel 150 miles to your glass, instead of the thousands that wines from elsewhere often cover.” That is a huge carbon differential. So drink local wines – drink Hawk Haven wine!

We gave the event a trial run last night at Sean’s Restaurant.  Everything was delicious, but we might mix it up a little for the first event.  Can’t wait!

Kenna and Todd at the Eat Local; Drink Local test dinner at Sean's Restaurant

Lindsey and Cate at the Eat Local; Drink Local test dinner at Sean's Restaurant

Eat Local ~ Drink Local
Hawk Haven Vineyard and Sean’s Restaurant
6 November 2009
All Three Small Plates and Wines Included

Small Plate One
2008 Pinot Grigio

Spinach and Seared Scallop Salad dressed with Toasted Sesame and Siracha

Small Plate OneSmall Plate Two
2007 Red Table Wine

Pork brushed with Blackberry Barbecue Sauce served over Jasmine Rice and Chef’s Vegetables

Small Plate Two
Small Plate Three
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

Rack of Lamb with Dijon Drizzle served over Roasted Garlic Mash and Chef’s Vegetables

Small Plate Three

Signing off from Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery in Cape May County, NJ – Cape May Wine Country ~ Cate

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Talks with Todd: The Booze and the Bees

Last wednesday we harvested the Pinot Grigio.  I decided to to try my hand at harvest, but I think I was more harm than help.

My Grandpa also helped, so we were both in the parking lot by 6:30 a.m. 

Grandpa in the Hawk Haven Parking Lot Ready to Harvest

 The first step of harvest is to unload the grape lugs from the barn. Lalo and the Grape Lugs

Then we harvest!Pinot Harvest Picture

Little known fact: if there is even a small puncture in the grape, it can start to ferment on the vine, especially if harvest is late in the season and the sugar content is high.  Todd decided to pull the Pinot Grigio at a fairly high brick count, which means there was a lot of sugar to ferment in the grapes. 

 Ed Wuerker Harvesting Pinot Grigio

Grandpa Harvesting Pinot Grigio

So, when the bees buzz around and feast on grapes, they actually get drunk!  Of course, Todd told me this like it was no big deal.  I thought it was hilarious!  Until one of them stung me, which I promptly used as an excuse to get out of the  grass and the bugs and stop harvesting.

Pinot Grigio at Harvest 

Pinot and Chardonnay are my favorite grapes to look at; the pinot has such a beautiful maroon color.  Below is a picture of the offending bee…

The Offending Bee.  What a JERK!

Signing off from Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery in Cape May County, NJ – Cape May Wine Country ~ Cate Hylas

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Wine and Dine: Cedar Plank Salmon with Red-Tailed Rose and Orange Glaze Update

As promised, I tried out my own recipe for Cedar Plank Salmon with Red-Tailed Rose and Orange Glaze.  It was a success.  I changed the recipe based on a few suggestions from my Aunt Jane and Shop Rite’s poor selection of herbs.

Red-Tailed rose and Orange Glaze for Cedar Plank Salmon

Ingredients of Cedar Plank Salmon with Red-Tailed Rose and Orange Glaze

2 cups orange juice

2 tps orange zest

.25 cup olive oil

3 tps chervil

1 cup Hawk Haven Red-Tailed Rose

A few orange slices

I brushed the salmon with the glaze and situated some of the orange slices on top.  I think the crisped orange slices were the best part of the whole dish.

Salmon on the Grill

Salmon on the Grill

I soaked the cedar plank in warm water with a pinch of salt for about an hour before I put the salmon on.

Me with the Salmon

Me with the Salmon

Cedar Plank Salmon and Hawk Haven Wine

Cedar Plank Salmon and Hawk Haven Wine

My Grandma is still raving about this meal, so I recommend you try it out.   If I do it again, I may make a few changes.  I’ll probably increase the proportion of the Red-Tailed Rose wine, which has 4% residual sugar, so that the glaze is slightly sweeter.  I’ll also use cilantro.  The chervil was nice, but I like herbs with more kick.

Signing off from Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery in Cape May County, NJ – Cape May Wine Country ~ Cate Hylas

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Wine and Dine: Cedar Plank Salmon with Hawk Haven Red-Tailed Rose Wine and Orange Glaze

So I’m having a Julie Powell moment.  After seeing the movie Julie & Julia, I decided to try extending the blog to include cooking with Hawk Haven wine.  (Mostly I just want to bounce around my kitchen shouting  boef bourignon and bon apetit in falsetto).  I’ll try to wow my boyfriend and my grandparents with a Cedar Plank Salmon with Red-Tailed Rose and Orange Glaze tonight.  Wish me luck…

I’ll be grilling the salmon on a low flame with Cedar planks (courtesy of my Aunt Susan).   I’m not much for recipes, so I’ll just give you an idea of what I plan to do.  I can’t promise I’ll follow my own instructions, but I’ll let you know in another post what if anything I change:

Red-Tailed Rose and Orange Glaze for Cedar Plank SalmonAn image of my Aunt Susan's Salmon that I stole from her.  Thanks Aunt Susan!  Hopefully it will look something like this.

A little bit of cilantro..

A little bit of orange zest…

A few orange slices…

A few cups of orange juice…

About a cup of Hawk Haven’s Red-Tailed Rose…

Vegetable oil (maybe?)…

And Sour cream if I decide to turn the whole thing into a cream sauce…

I told you I wasn’t much for recipes… Suggestions and comments welcome!  If you have any of your own recipes that include Hawk Haven wine, please send them to me at, and I’ll post them on the website!

Signing off from Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery in Cape May County, NJ – Cape May Wine Country ~ Cate Hylas

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