Posts Tagged With: winery

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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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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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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From Barrel to Bottle – Bottling our 2012 Whites

During the winter when the vines are bare and it doesn’t seem like there is very much going on at the vineyard, everybody is bottletruckactually quite busy doing any number of things. There is pruning to be done and general vineyard maintenance. The wines that are currently in tanks and barrels also need to be watched to make sure they are progressing favorably. The wine maker will use a wine thief to sample the wines and get an idea of what their flavor profiles will be like. He will also be making sure the barrels stay filled so that the wine inside is exposed to as little oxygen as possible.

emptybottlesGoing into spring, some of the white varietals will be ready to bottle, and that is exactly what we did earlier this month. The mobile bottling factory arrived bright and early on a Wednesday morning. During the days prior, filtering was performed for all the varietals that would be bottled. This included Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio to name a few. The mobile bottling factory is a big truck with the entire bottling assembly line inside the trailer. At the start of the line, we would deposit the empty bottles by the case-full where they would begin their expedition through the machinery.

The bottles are sterilized one by one and blasted with nitrogen to dry them out and remove any oxygen from inside. This step is very important because it will prevent oxidation, which could negatively affect the flavors of the wine. The bottles are then filled with wine and another quick blast of nitrogen before being corked and topped with a foil capsule.


The center bottle is getting a refreshing blast of nitrogen before getting filled with Riesling.

Finally the bottles are labeled and exit the truck where we had staff waiting to rebox them and seal the cases. All the newly bottled wines were sent to our wine room where they will hang out for at least a few more months to allow the wine to recover from the shock of bottling (read more about bottle-shock). And soon they will be ready for you to taste and enjoy!


Here are some of the new wines you can expect starting around the end of June:
American Kestrel White
2012 Chardonnay
2012 Riesling
Red-Tailed Rose
Signature Series:
2012 Reserve Chardonnay
2012 Albarino
2012 Viognier
2012 Sauvignon Blanc
2012 Barrel-Fermented Dry Riesling

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February Specials at Hawk Haven

Stop by the Hawk Haven tasting room to enjoy these special offerings and events!

Save 25% on select wines!
We are offering a 25% discount on cases of 2011 Pinot Grigio, 2011 Riesling, and Northern Harrier Red. Mix & match, as long as there are 12 bottles of any combination of those three wines. Wine Club Members will receive 30% off!

NEW! Chocolate and Cheese Plate – $18
Try our new Chocolate and Cheese Plate featuring two gourmet cheeses, two specialty chocolates, imported Marcona almonds, orange peel fig spread, and crackers. Each plate comes with wine pairing suggestions. Our Gourmet Cheese Plate is also still available!

Specialty Gourmet Chocolates For Sale
While supplies last, visit the Hawk Haven tasting room to purchase assorted gourmet chocolate bars. For the adventurous, try the Vosges Red Fire Bar with Mexican ancho & chipotle chillies, Ceylon cinnamon, dark chocolate. Or for something with a little less spice and a little more sweet, try the Chocolove Orange Peel in Dark Chocolate, featuring smooth semi-sweet Belgian chocolate with crispy bits of tangy orange peel. Milk chocolate and white chocolate bars will also be available. Get them while they’re still here!

Visit our Events Page for information on more upcoming events including the Wine & Chocolate Trail Weekend and President’s/Valentine’s Day Weekend.

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Wine Tasting Tip: Ask Questions

Maybe you know nothing about wine. You have no idea what malolactic fermentation is and as far as you know, the only difference between red wine and white wine is that one is red and one is white. We’ve even had a  guest ask, “What are the purple things on the vines outside?”

winesnobMaybe you know a lot about wine. You can pick up the different influences of American oak versus French oak in a Chardonnay. Maybe you’re one of those wizards who can determine the exact vintage, varietal, and appellation after just one sip.

Either way and in between, there are plenty of questions to be asked and the winery staff is trained and eager to answer yours. So if you’re curious about something, don’t be afraid to ask. There really are no stupid questions, we have heard them all and we’re just here to make sure you have a good time and find something you like.

If you’re a beginner and not sure what to ask but want to learn more, some good questions to ask are:

  • What is the difference between wine fermented in steel versus in oak?
  • What food would be a good pairing for this wine?
  • At what temperature should I serve this wine?
  • What is the best way to store this wine and how long can I keep it before I open it?

If you’re a wine connoisseur, we know you have PLENTY of questions and hopefully we have sufficient answers for you.

One thing to remember about oenology and viticulture is that it is an ongoing learning Hawk Haven.IMG_0307experience. There are more wines out there than a person could taste in one lifetime, and new varietals and wine making processes are being discovered and new blends being created all the time. Socrates said that wisdom begins in wonder, and the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

The most important thing is to not feel pressured to know everything there is to know, but to enjoy yourself and feel comfortable asking questions whenever you are curious about something. Also, nobody likes a wine snob!! 😉 So sit back, relax, and enjoy your wine tasting!

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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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What’s In A Name?

How much do you know about Merlot?  Before you start quoting Sideways and say you’re not drinking any, let’s take a closer look at the third most grown wine in the world.

Hawk Haven Merlot Grapes

Our Hawk Haven Merlot Grapes

Merlot wine is a varietal made from the Merlot grape, which is also used in any number of blended wines.  The name Merlot is thought to come from the Old French word for “young blackbird.”  This was either because of the grapes gorgeous dark-blue color, or from the delight that blackbirds find in eating the grapes.

Merlot may be an offspring of the Cabernet Franc grape, and is a sibling of Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The grapes are identified by loose bunches of large berries with a thinner skin, fewer tannins and a higher sugar content than a Cabernet Sauvignon.  The softness of the Merlot grape, along with its earlier ripening, makes it a good choice for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which ripens later and tends to be higher in tannin.

There are three main styles of Merlot.  You can either have a soft, fruity, smooth wine with very little tannins, a fruity wine with a medium tannic structure, or a brawny highly tannic style made in the profile of a Cabernet Sauvignon.  Some of the fruit notes commonly associated with Merlot include cassis, black and red cherries, blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, mulberry and plum. Vegetable and earthy notes include black and green olives, cola nut, bell pepper, fennel, humus, leather, mushrooms, rhubarb and tobacco. Floral and herbal notes commonly associated with Merlot include green and black tea, eucalyptus, laurel, mint, oregano, pine, rosemary, sage, sarsaparilla and thyme.  When Merlot has spent significant time in oak, the wine may show notes of caramel, chocolate, coconut, coffee bean, dill weed, mocha, molasses, smoke, vanilla and walnut.

Hawk Haven Estate Merlot

Hawk Haven Estate Merlot

Our own Hawk Haven Merlot was such a hit that we completely sold out!  Our 2007 Estate Merlot was an exceptionally balanced wine, with a delicate harmony of soft, rounded tannins and rich concentrations of fruit.  The lush plum flavors and notes of blackberry and cherry lent themselves to a smooth and velvety finish.

So what are we doing telling you about a wine that’s sold out?  Besides starting some deep cravings for a delicious Merlot, we want to get you all geared up for the release of our 2008 Merlot!  On August 13th we will be releasing our new Merlot, and every indication is that it is going to be just as good as last year.  Visit our website and sign up for our email newsletter for more information on this and other events at Hawk Haven.

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