Posts Tagged With: vineyard

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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Be Our Valentine?


Valentine’s Day is this Friday, February 14th, which is perfect because it means we have all weekend to celebrate. If you’re looking for something special to do with your significant other, Hawk Haven is the perfect place to spend a romantic afternoon and we have some very exciting festivities planned for this weekend.

If you’re single and Valentine’s Day is depressing for you, let us point out that studies have shown that CHOCOLATE makes everything better. It’s science! You can’t argue with science and you definitely can’t argue with chocolate. Not when there is wine involved, and I’m sure there are other studies showing that wine gives you eternal life or something, so you really can’t lose.

So here we are, offering you happiness and eternal life* and you’re still wondering what to do this weekend. Let us help you with that!

Our friendly tasting room staff are ready to serve up our award-winning wines!

Our friendly tasting room staff is ready to serve up our award-winning wines!

The tasting room is open daily, 12pm-5pm, for educational wine tastings, wine sales, cheese plates, and general hanging out. On Friday, February 14th, we will be offering our Wine & Chocolate Pairing for $12 which includes a wine tasting of eight wines, four of which are expertly paired with gourmet chocolates (we ate a lotttt of this chocolate so we’re pretty sure that makes us experts now), and a souvenir wine glass.

Then comes the Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend, February 15th & 16th. We are so excited for this weekend that we wanted to make sure you had plenty of time to enjoy it, so we extended our hours a bit to be 11am-6pm. Fall in love with our wines during the Wine & Chocolate Pairing, then stroll on over to our barrel room for a very special barrel tasting with our very special winemaker. During this barrel tasting, you will get to sample some of our newest wines and although they aren’t quite ready for bottling, they are already tasting great which is why we wanted to share them with you now. We will even be selling futures, so you can secure yourself some bottles before they are ever released to the public.

This is the best grilled cheese you ever had in your life, especially if you've never had grilled cheese.

This is the best grilled cheese you ever had in your life, especially if you’ve never had grilled cheese.

At this point you’ll be ready to sit back and relax under our heated crushpad tent with a glass of your favorite wine. Can’t decide which one you liked best? Order a red or white wine flight for a 2.5 ounce serving of four wines. By now you’re probably starting to get hungry, and as delicious as those chocolate tastings were, you need something more! We’ve got that covered too, with gourmet cheese plates and some appetizer-sized offerings from Chef Ryan Kennedy of Executive Catering. We had the opportunity to try some of these dishes last weekend, and they are not to be missed. You might have to order one of everything.

This article is getting pretty long but I am not finished! I didn’t tell you about the LIVE MUSIC yet! That’s right, we will have some great local musicians here from 2pm to 5pm all weekend. Come hear the poetic lyrics of guitarist Gordon Vincent on Saturday, then come back Sunday with your dancing shoes because we’ve got Tamara deMent on the violin accompanied by Jim Maher on the guitar.

And that’s that! If you totally scrolled straight to the bottom without reading any of the above, here is the jist of it: Wine, Chocolate, Food, and Live Music at Hawk Haven Winery this weekend, February 15th & 16th. Now you have to come because you skipped over all my hard work. See you there!

*Our lawyers have advised us that we must inform you we cannot guarantee eternal life from our wines. But we still think we can at least do the happiness part.

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Behind the Bar: Josh

joshbiophotoIf customer reviews are any indication of your favorite staff members, Josh is probably somewhere in the Top 5. He is known for his very informative wine tastings and he also is one of three people qualified for doing our Vineyard & Winery Tours. Born and raised in Cape May County, Josh still lives locally with his wife Jill and two cute little red-headed twin girls. He came to us in the spring of 2011 with a background in Biology and an interest in producing wine on a commercial scale.

Besides working in the tasting room and acting as tour guide, Josh has also been managing Hawk Haven’s retail outlets. There are several local restaurants that carry Hawk Haven wines, and his job is to visit each place, make sure the staff are familiar with the wines, keep track of bottle sales, and restock them for the week.


His favorite thing about working here is “quality assurance.” In other words, he enjoys tasting the wine each day to make sure it is acceptable for you. In other, other words, he just likes to drink the wine. Like so many of us, he loves the 2010 Petit Verdot because it is silky smooth with flavors of blackberries, currants, and a deep earthiness. “The way most women feel about chocolate, everyone should feel about [the Petit Verdot].” His advice for fellow wine drinkers? “The only way to learn is to taste everything, so keep drinking.”

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The Rutgers Research Project at Hawk Haven

Something exciting is underway at Hawk Haven (in addition to our regular, everyday exciting) that we wanted to share with you. We’ve been calling it “The Rutgers Research Project at Hawk Haven” (or Rutger’s Project for short) because it is headed by Dan Ward, the Assistant Extension Specialist, and Peter Oudemans, the Associate Professor, both of Rutgers’ Plant Biology and Pathology department. Together with the Outer Coastal Plains Association, they developed a four year trial to see how two rare and unique varietals grow here on the East Coast.

It all began a few years ago when Todd’s quality management of the vineyard caught Dan’s attention. He saw a guy who really cared about the plants and worked hard every day to bring each vine to its full potential. So Hawk Haven Vineyard was chosen, along with three other vineyards throughout the state, to participate in a mutli-year study of the different growing climates of New Jersey. Each vineyard was chosen based on their location as well as the dedication and commitment of the vineyard managers to their land. In that respect, we were very honored to have been selected and look forward to seeing the results.

Lagrein varietal

Lagrein varietal

We were provided with ten vines each of two different varietals. The first, Lagrein, is a red grape native to Northern Italy, known for its full body and high acidity. Besides Italy, it can also be found growing in Australia and New Zealand, and it is related to Pinot Noir and Syrah. The second is a relative of the Lagrein grape, another red Italian varietal called Teroldego, an even more rarely found grape. Teroldego is known for producing a deeply pigmented, fruity wine. Both varietals are almost nonexistent here in the states and have been quarantined at UC Davis for several years to test for inherent diseases and to see how they stand up against any diseases and pests that are native to North America.

The experiment also involved the installation of a weather station out in the vineyard that will record various factors like wind, humidity, precipitation, and temperature. There are even these little “leaves” that are placed within the canopy among the real leaves and will record leaf wetness. This information is uploaded via cell tower to a website that Dan & Peter will use to study all these factors at each of the four vineyards. The best part is that we also get access to this information which will be extremely useful to us going forward in planning future vineyard maintenance.


Teroldego varietal

We planted the vines earlier this spring, the weather station is all set up (you can check it out during our Vineyard & Winery Tour), and we also hired an intern who has experience in plant physiology. She will be helping Todd with petiole sampling to monitor nutrients, testing the sugar content in the grapes (°brix), and other information recording for this Rutgers Project. And get this: once the grapes are grown, we get to keep the fruit! So in a few years you might see some blends featuring Lagrein or Teroldego in the racks of our tasting room. In fact, we should probably start practicing how to properly pronounce those varietals.

By the end of the experiment, Dan and Pete will have collected enough weather information to see the difference in climate across the state and how it affects the vines. We think this will be really great for the New Jersey grape growing industry because in addition to producing award-winning wines, we will have cold, hard facts to support NJ as an excellent growing region.  So stay tuned, we will continue to give updates on the progress of this experiment, and we can’t wait to see how these varietals grow here and if they will produce good wines for us.

A lot of new varietals were planted this year in addition to Teroldego and Legrein.

A lot of new varietals were planted this year in addition to Teroldego and Legrein.

The weather recording station (left) and anemometer (right, in vines).

The weather recording station (left) and anemometer (right, in vines).

Leaf Wetness Sensor

Leaf Wetness Sensor

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Best Wine Destinations

TripAdvisor recently released their 2012 Travelers’ Choice Best Wine Destinations with four different categories including the United States, Europe, South Pacific, and all over the world. Missing from this list: the great wine regions of New Jersey!

The Garden State has long been overlooked as a grape-growing region, and many people are often very surprised to learn that award-winning wines can be found in places outside of Italy, France, and Napa. If you’ve ever visited our tasting room, you’ve probably heard us talk about the sandy soils, cool ocean breezes, and long growing seasons here in Cape May County. In fact, this area has been recognized by several wine experts as one of the best wine regions on the East Coast.

Hawk Haven wine has won many awards since it opened in 2009.

The history of grape-growing and wine-making in New Jersey can be traced back as far as the mid- to late-1700’s, with the first commercial wine-making operation, Renault Winery, established in 1864. The industry was greatly hurt by the Prohibition era starting in 1919, and production remained small even after Prohibition ended in 1933, but by the early 1980’s more and more wineries began popping up across the country.

South Jersey earned an American Viticulture Area (AVA) in 2007, known as the Outer Coastal Plain. This was a significant development as it meant this part of New Jersey would be officially recognized as a grape-growing region. Almost half of New Jersey’s vineyards are located within the Outer Coast Plain.

New Jersey’s various AVAs.

Today there are over 40 wineries in the state which have produced around 1.72 million gallons each year, making it the seventh highest wine producing state in the country.

If you visit and look through the ratings for each New Jersey winery, you’ll see plenty of four- and five-star reviews. People love New Jersey wines and love visiting their local wineries. So why isn’t New Jersey a Best Wine Destination? This is where you come in! If you haven’t already, visit the site and leave a review for the wineries you’ve visited (you can find Hawk Haven’s TripAdvisor page by clicking here). Tell TripAdvisor what you love about New Jersey wine and why you believe the Garden State is the perfect wine destination.

Let’s make 2013 the year that New Jersey is recognized as one of the greatest places in the world for fine wines!

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Luxury at Hawk Haven Vineyard

If you are planning a trip to Cape May and looking to kick it up a notch with “a little bit of luxury,” this article on offers a few suggestions on how to make your stay more special, including a trip to Hawk Haven’s tasting room (doors pictured in center, below).

Make your visit to Hawk Haven extra luxurious by enjoying our cheese plate, a selection of gourmet cheeses from Seaside Cheese Company, and have a glass of wine out in the romantic setting of our vineyard.

Hawk Haven is open 11am-7pm 7 days a week for wine tastings, sales, and wine by the glass.

For a list of current events, click here or visit our Facebook page. Some of our featured events include our Friday Night Supper Club (every Friday night June 29th-September 7th), Saturdays on the Crushpad (every Saturday June-October; live music, food, and wine) and our famous Sangria Sundays (every Sunday Memorial Day Weekend-Labor Day Weekend; live music, food, wine, and sangria).

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Coming Soon: Saturdays on the Crushpad 2012

Saturdays on the Crushpad

Last summer at Hawk Haven Vineyard we introduced a new event called Saturdays on the Crushpad to bring more enjoyment to your weekend in Cape May County. With live music, wine, and freshly made gourmet food, Saturdays on the Crushpad was a great success and we are happy to be starting it earlier than ever for 2012.

On Saturday, May 26th we will kick off the first of many Saturdays on the Crushpad which will continue through the fall. We are so excited that we wanted to give you a sneak peek of the new fresh gourmet menu from The Red Store in Cape May Point, a new culinary delight run by the owners of Quahog’s Seafood Shack in Stone Harbor.

So here it is, give or take a few changes that may inevitably occur, and pricing to be determined. Try not to lick the screen.

Winemaker’s Selection Cheese Plate
A tasty selection of four cheeses from our local cheese shop with wine pairing suggestions for each.

Seasonal Quiche
A delectable creation of spinach and goat cheese brought to us by local French baker Michel Gras Atelier of La Patisserie. Served with a side salad of greens picked fresh from Hawk Haven’s own gardens.

Seasonal Gazpacho
Chilled white soup of grapes, almonds, roasted garlic, and cucumber.


Napa-Style Ham & Cheese Sandwich
A favorite of Hawk Haven owners Todd & Kenna, this sandwich is the perfect pairing to any glass of Hawk Haven wine. Ham, cheese, cornichons, sweet cream butter, and Dijon mustard served on La Patisserie Vienna bread.

Red Store Roast Beef Sandwich
Tender roast beef and sharp cheddar cheese topped with fresh tomato, cucumber, and onions, served on La Patisserie Vienna bread.


For additional amount add lump crab or grilled chicken

Seasonal Salad
A fresh selection of locally grown lettuces, seasonal vegetables, and fruit with house-made vinaigrette.

Goat Cheese and Beet Salad
A sweet and savory combination of roasted local beets, goat cheese, and candied walnuts over arugula with house-made vinaigrette.

Caesar Salad
Romaine hearts, local cherry tomatoes, shaved manchego cheese, radishes, croutons, and house-made Caesar dressing

The Music!

All Saturday bands play 2-5pm
No Cover Charge!

May 26th Marnie & Nate 

June 2nd TBA

June 9th Gordon Vincent

June 16th Jon Thompson

June 23rd Dale of Hennesey & Jack

June 30th Marnie & Nate

July 7th Gordon Vincent

July 14th John Nesbitt

July 21st Dan Brown Duo

July 28th Dale of Hennesey & Jack

August 4th Tamara DeMent & Jim Maher

August 11th Dale of Hennesey & Jack

August 18th Gordon Vincent

August 25th John Nesbitt

Sept 1st TBA

Sept 8th Gordon Vincent

Sept 15th John Nesbitt

Sept 22nd TBA

Sept 29th John Nesbitt

Oct 6th TBA

Oct 13th John Nesbitt

Oct 20th Kate Delaney-Chew

Oct 27th Kate Delaney-Chew

Check back often for more official menu information and updated schedule of live music. Hope to see you here!

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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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Don’t Miss the Wine Pairing Dinner With Chef Barry Sexton

Chef Barry Sexton

Photo Courtesy of

Don’t miss your chance to snag one of the few remaining seats for this weekend’s fabulous wine pairing dinners hosted here at Hawk Haven!

This Saturday, July 24th, Hawk Haven has the pleasure to host celebrity chef Barry Sexton!  Chef Sexton was classically trained for more than a decade under the tutelage of Master Chef Jean Pierre Tardy, who was the Executive Chef of Le Bec Fin, in Philadelphia, for seven years. Chef Barry worked closely with Jean Pierre, keeping the creative process alive by combining his imagination with the best and freshest ingredients.  He even created several signature dishes at Jean Pierre’s Restaurant in Newtown, Pennsylvania, known locally for its French cuisine.

In 2004, Chef Barry Sexton launched his own culinary project, Opinionated Palate Catering, as a way to share his love of food and entertaining. With over 30 years of experience in the culinary arts, Barry brings an undying passion for creating beautiful, flavorful food to his catering venture. Barry enjoys scouring the markets for new and unusual foods, and combining them with his signature creativity and flair for his customers and their guests. He is grateful for the confidence of customers who trust Opinionated Palate Catering to make their event not only a success, but the best day of their life.

Chef Sexton will prepare a four-course dinner in the vineyard on Saturday, July 24th. Each course will be expertly paired with a Hawk Haven Wine. Seating is limited, and those remaining spots are going fast! For more information call Hawk Haven at (609) 846-7347, or visit to order your tickets online, and take a sneak peek at the evening’s menu!

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Talks with Todd: 2009 Chardonnay Harvest

Chardonnay with Bees Todd and Lalo harvested the Chardonnay this morning.  Todd is still making fun of me for being such a whiny whimp about my bee sting, so he didn’t even bother to tell me about harvest until this morning.  Above is a picture of some Chardonnay grapes in the lug, along with a few tag-along-drunk bees.

Lalo, My Favorite Model

 Above is a picture of Lalo happily harvesting Chardonnay.

Chardonnay on Harvest Day


I snuck a few tastes of the Chardonnay – delicious!  They are at 21 bricks, which Todd said is exactly what he wanted for the sugar content.  They acidity level is exactly where he wants it too.  I’m very excited; I love Chardonnay!

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

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