The temperate climate of the southern Jersey peninsula has allowed Cape May to emerge as a premier grape growing region, and is home to several award-winning vineyards. Sandy soil and sea breezes from the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay provide a perfect environment in which grapes thrive, and inspire local vintners to turn them into delicious wines. These conditions are similar to the Bordeaux, a famous French wine-growing region that lies between the Atlantic and the lower Gironde River and produces exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc wines.
The Cape is now home to several wineries, all which produce a wide variety of wines that are served and can be purchased in local establishments. Additionally, the wineries provide an excellent diversion from hot, crowded beaches in the summer, play host to unique day and evening events, and provide a fun destination for visitors year-round. With tours, tastings and weekly and seasonal events, the wineries of Cape May have become a destination for many wine-loving vacationers.
Here are the different wineries of Cape May, and information on how you can visit them in fun, interactive, and socially responsible ways.
Cape May Winery
(711 Townbank Road, Cape May)
Cape May Winery opened in 1996 and is the oldest winery in Cape May County. It consists of four different vineyards covering over 70 acres. The winery currently produces sixteen grape varietals including white, red and blush wines ranging in taste from sweet to dry. While their focus is on producing viniferous grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Chardonnay, the winery also produces both sweet and dry blended wines. Their signature white wine is the Cape May Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, which is fermented and aged in French Oak for over 16 months.
The winery features several indoor and outdoor tasting areas. The beautiful outdoor patio, which is nestled among the vineyards, offers ample seating at tables, shaded by an array of colorful umbrellas, gorgeous landscaping and a tranquil fountain.
Tours of the winery take guests through the production barns and vineyard, provide a lesson in how wines are made, offer a tasting from an oak barrel, provide behind the scenes look at the wine-making operation and offer guests a fruit and cheese tray to enjoy as well as a souvenir stemmed wine glass. Tours are given in rain or shine, and unfortunately pets and children under the age of 15 are not permitted on the tours.
Each Wednesday between June and September, a “Summer Grill Night” is offered. The cost is $34 per person, not including tax, tip or wines. The menu features charcuterie with a variety of meats & cheeses, fruit, olives and other pairing items, a grilled entrée, sides and dessert. A Lobster Bake is also held in August.
Inside the winery is a shop where bottles of wine, accessories and gifts may be purchased. Cape May Winery currently ships only to New Jersey and Florida, and offers a “Case Club”, which is a yearly membership offering discounts for members. Additionally, customers can purchase bottles with customized labels with a fee of $10 for initial set up and $25 for a custom logo or photo. The price of a bottle of wine with a customized label will cost $1 more than the same bottle without a customized label.
Willow Creek Winery
(160 Stevens Street, West Cape May)
The Willow Creek Winery has been producing award-winning wines for the past seven years. Located on a 50-acre farm consisting of both preserved and unpreserved land, this winery currently produces over 15 varieties of wine, including red, white and blush wines ranging from sweet to dry. Six new estate wines were recently introduced as well.
The winery offers wine and sangria tastings, as well as a tapas menu, that can be enjoyed either outside on the brick patio or inside the expansive hand-carved post and beam wooden building. Inside the winery is an expansive room with pub and restaurant tables, lounge areas with leather couches, a grand stone fireplace, a tasting bar and gift shop. Outside is a beautiful outdoor brick patio with fireplace surrounded by rows of vines. During the summer, the winery hosts Fire Pit Fridays, Yoga in the Vineyard, Wine and Paint nights, Wine-Paired Dinners and “Uncorked” Comedy Nights. The winery also provides private seated tasting sessions and offers a beautiful setting for private events, including weddings.
Willow Creek offers daily farm and vineyard tours as well. The 45-minute tours are by eco-friendly electric tour cart that takes visitors through the vineyards while a tour guide teaches about the winery’s history, the old world grape varietals and other sustainable agricultural products that are grown there.
A unique program offered by Willow Creek is “Adopt a Vine”. For $100, one can adopt a vine in their or another’s name. The vine “parent” will be given their own personally named vine marker, will receive bi-monthly informative emails discussing the vines’ stage of growth and development, the challenges and rewards it faced and what work is required on the vines throughout the year. They will also receive a refillable sangria growler , 5% off all of their wine or sangria purchases throughout the year, and will have first access to new wine releases and special vineyard event tickets.
Turdo Vineyard and Winery
(3911 Bayshore Road, North Cape May)
The Turdo Vineyard is a family owned and run operation. For the past ten years, the Turdo Family, who live in North Jersey, have built this successful winery on a part-time basis, coming to Cape May each weekend to tend to their business. Turdo Vineyards is now the only vineyard and winery in the state of NJ to be run 100% on solar energy.
Turdo wines are fully estate grown, and grapes are harvested by hand at peak maturity. Currently, the winery offers 7 varieties of white wine and 9 varieties of red wine.
Private tastings are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Monday – Saturday from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm or 6 pm – 8 pm. Reservations must be made with a 2-week advance. Tastings can be for groups with a minimum of 8 and maximum of 20 people. A sampling of 7 wines (3 whites and 4 reds) is provided, as well as an assortment of cured meats, artisan cheeses, bread, crackers, fresh fruit, nuts and dark chocolates. Bottles are available for purchase after the tasting session, and a souvenir wine glass is provided as part of the package.
Wines can be shipped directly in increments of half cases (6 bottles) or full cases (12 bottles).
Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery
(600 S. Railroad Avenue, Rio Grande)
Although the first vines of what later would become Hawk Haven vineyard were planted in 1997, their first vintage was in 2007 and consisted of the American Kestrel White (an unoaked Chardonnay), Red Table Wine, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery officially opened in 2008 and today it features fourteen acres of vines with sixteen different varietals. All of the grapes grown on the estate are harvested, pressed, fermented, aged, blended, and bottled on site.
The Hawk Haven tasting room is open daily, year-round, for wine tastings and sales (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas). Vineyard tours are also offered, during which a guide will lead guests through every step of the wine making process from the vineyard to the barrel so that they may learn what makes each wine unique and how each flavor and aroma is achieved. Guests will also learn about the history of Hawk Haven while they sample wines and enjoy a selection of gourmet cheeses. Tours are $25 per person and include wine tasting, cheese, and souvenir glass.
Hawk Haven offers a plethora of events and activities throughout the year. Weekly events include Saturdays on the Crushpad, which is an afternoon of wine, food pairings and live entertainment. Rootstock Concert Series is another popular event that runs from July to September and offers wines, food trucks and live music. Sangria Sundays feature their famous house-made Sangria and live music by local musicians. Other special events include Harvest Winemaker’s Dinner, Holiday Wine Trail Weekend, Uncork Christmas and participation in Cape May’s Food and Wine Festival, among other special events.
The Hawk Haven Shipping Club allows members to receive quarterly deliveries packed with the winery’s hand-crafted vintages, wine notes and recipes during the months of March, June, September and December. Club members can select from vintage, estate and cellar wines.
Jessie Creek Winery
(1 Delsea Drive, Cape May Courthouse)
At Jessie Creek Winery, located in Cape May Courthouse, the grapes are grown and cultivated by hand, creating full-bodied wines that are distinctly flavorful. Guests of the winery are invited to visit their active barrel room which features candlelit oak tasting bars and a comfortable indoor lounge area. Or they may sit on an outdoor wrap-around porch where they can view the beautiful vineyard and enjoy a glass of wine and a tasty cheese plate.
Tasting experiences include wines by the flight, with the guidance of a tasting room attendant or a self-guided option where they can choose any five wines and sip at their leisure. The Tasting Room is open during the summer season Tuesday-Sunday from 11 am-5:30 pm. In fall, their hours are Tuesday – Thursday 11 am – 6 pm, Friday – Sunday, 11 am – 7 pm.
During summer, the winery hosts “Sunset in the Vineyard” where guests are invited to bring a blanket or sit at a table to enjoy the sun setting over the vineyard with a glass or spiral of wine, a crackling fire and live music. On Saturday evenings in October, the winery hosts Autumnal Evenings to celebrate the end of the harvest season. Guests are invited to watch the sunset and enjoy the crisp fall air by the bonfire, take a hayride around the vineyard, listen to live music and enjoy warm mulled wine, cheeses, meats and crackers (or they may bring their own snacks if they prefer.)
(221 N Delsea Drive, Cape May Court House)
Formerly a pasture for horses, 2400 vines were first planted here in over 3 acres in 2001. The winery operations began in September 2004, just in time for the harvest, and the winery opened to the public in 2007. By the end of 2007 a new Tasting Room opened and additional equipment increased production. By 2015 Natali Vineyards produced over 1500 cases with 30 different labels and had won 80 medals in competition.
Over the years the vineyard expanded to 7 acres with 5500 vines, yielding 15 tons of high quality fruit. Fourteen different varieties of French, Italian and Spanish grapes have been planted here. Tasting room hours are generally 10 am – 6 pm, with the winery being open until 7 pm in the months of July and August, and until 5 pm October – April.
The winery is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, but is open Christmas Eve & New Year’s Eve until 3:00 pm. Various activities and events are held throughout the year.
Winery Tours and Transportation
Cape May Wine Trail
The Cape May Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts hosts a winery trolley tour on Saturdays throughout the year. Enjoy a brief tour and tasting at Willow Creek Winery and then have lunch at either Willow Creek or the Carriage House Cafe & Tearoom at the Physick Estate. Then the trolley will shuttle guests to two or three local wineries including Willow Creek Winery, Hawk Haven Vineyard and Natali Vineyard, where they will learn about viniculture and visit the tasting rooms. Tour includes a souvenir wine-tasting glass. The costs begin at $75 per person.
This fun tour company will take you right back to the 70s in their vintage VW bus – and right into Cape May’s finest wineries. They will pick you up from any place in Cape May County and return you to where you started after visiting 4 wineries with complimentary tastings and 1 Vineyard Tour. A stop for lunch is available, as well as visits to Cape May area breweries and distilleries. Everything is included for the price of $125 per person.
Tastings and Tours
The Cape May package offered by this winery tour company allows tour groups to travel by 14-passenger bus and visit three of the following Cape May wineries: Cape May Winery and Vineyard, Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery, Jessie Creek Winery, Natali Vineyards and Willow Creek Winery. Lunch at a local restaurant is included in the price of the tour. Pick up times are approximately between 10:30 am and 11:45 am and drop off is between 5:00 pm and 6:30 pm. Tours are available for groups of 6 – 14 people (groups of less than 6 people may join other groups already scheduled for the same day, provided there is space). Price is $140 per person. Customized tours are also available for groups of 14.