What Exit for Great New Jersey Wine? Old York, Of Course!


I’m a white wine drinker. I enjoy their complexity, their spirit, and their accessibility. Which is why on a rather hot and humid Labor Day weekend I opted to stick to whites on the tasting menu at Old York Cellars.

A gorgeous combination of modern and eclectic, the tasting room at Old York Cellars was buzzing with a diverse crowd of Jersey wine fanatics. You can tell the Jersey wine fanatic a mile away because while some wine tasters will mill about between sips, perhaps checking out the art hanging up around the tasting room, Jersey wine-o’s stand at the crowded bar determined to make their way down the list. What can I say? We’re used to waiting in traffic.

Claiming a spot at the bar our hostess supplied us with a wine list: six for $5. We commenced with the 2012 Dry Riesling. Rich and flavorful, this Riesling proffered a rather tangy finish. When it comes to a dry wine, I preferred the 2012 Vidal Blanc. At 0% residual sugar, this beautiful white gold wine played citrus notes as it danced across my tongue leaving a wet, smooth finish.

Their 2011 Sweet Riesling is truer to expectation. At 4% residual sugar it carried a pleasant flavor, richer, fuller body and almost creamy mouthfeel. A Silver Medal winner at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition is a serious honor given the fact that the Finger Lakes are the King of American Riesling.  This wine should find a place at your dessert table with light, naturally sweet fare.


In an effort to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, Old York bottled three wines under the “What Exit” label, a label reminiscent of Jersey road signs that can be customized with your own exit upon purchase, $1 from each bottle goes to the NJ Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.

What Exit White is made from the Chenin Blanc grape, a highly acidic French varietal commonly used to make everything from sparkling to dessert wines. Lacking any residual sugar the What Exit version was almost puckering, carrying within it a buttery essence and citrus flair. What Exit Blush, however, was an exciting balance of Chenin Blanc and Barbera, an intensely acidic red Italian grape. At 4% residual sugar, What Exit Blush is a surprising blend of flavorful, fruity white and tannic red with a gorgeous, crystal pink tone.

We finished our tasting with the 2011 Southpaw White Port. Bottled in gorgeous blue Italian glass this Riesling port, fortified with brandy, is rich and best served after a meal on a cold winter’s night. The brandy balances out the sugar common to the Riesling grape while the use of the German grape gives an otherwise heavy drink a light bodied flair.

For $5, grab a glass of What Exit Blush and head out to the deck overlooking the vineyard. Bucolic, it’s no wonder Old York Cellars hosts yoga and plein air painting classes facing the vines. Escape the crowd, sit under one of the big old trees and be restored.

Old York Cellars gambles with some relatively unknown varietals and may, at times, try too hard to produce the typical perfect dry. But, when they jump out of the box and let the grapes show their style, they produce some flavorful, award-winning wines. A gorgeous locale and impressive tasting room, I look forward to taste what the future holds for these Jersey vines.

Art lovers will appreciate the sculpture among the vines.

Art lovers will appreciate the sculpture among the vines.