The Jersey Shore is more than just beaches, boardwalks and the occasional fabulous casino. For those who manage to escape the more touristic locations and explore the outlying beach towns on this beautiful seashore, there is a haven of culture and craft brewing. Between fun microbreweries and eclectic wineries with seaside vineyards, the Jersey Shore is one of the best, and perhaps the most unexpected, destinations for thirsty visitors to tour.
Cape May Winery
Cape May Winery is easily the best winery on the Jersey Shore, if not in all of New Jersey. Its 16 varieties of award-winning wine are sure to keep visitors enticed for a long while. Further, the winery's proximity to the Cape May shoreline may persuade travelers to stay for the duration of their New Jersey vacation. Nothing pairs better than sitting out on the sand with a bottle of Lighthouse Blush enjoying its cherry burst and sweet fruity finish while watching the sunset. Or grab a bottle of Cabernet Franc Reserve with a sultry flavour to complement that long walk down the beach with a special someone. After visitors have finished enjoying their wine, it is well worth taking a tour of the winery's property. Cape May is one of the few wineries on the Jersey Shore that keep their vineyard nearby, and the seaside environment imparts a unique flavour to the wine.
Beach Haus® Brewery
April Narby Photography
In March 2015 the construction of the Beach Haus Brewery in in Belmar, NJ will be complete. Celebratory beers all around! You already know their popular beers Kick Back Ale, Winter Rental, Cruiser IPA and their popular namesake Beach Haus Classic American Pilsner. For the uninitiated, drinking age visitors to the Jersey Shore can rarely say they've had a good trip without enjoying a cold Beach Haus. The company is the creation of two friends, former Hi-Tech professionals whose love for The Shore and passion for brewing encouraged them to trade in their suits for sandals. The Jersey-centric brews are ever expanding and can be found throughout in the state, but if you can, make a point to sample them in the new brewery. Address: 801 Main Street, Belmar, NJ 07719.
Located just outside of Atlantic City in Egg Harbour is Renault Winery, the oldest winery in New Jersey. Renault Winery started its history by growing a collection of Champagne grapes in 1870, one of the few wineries in the area to do so, and has prospered since. As the winery owners soon found out, the unique location of their vineyard has very similar soil properties to Southern France, which eventually led to rich cultivation of lush Cabernets and complex Chardonnays. However, they have not limited their production to just these wines, but also added Merlot, Norton, Riesling and Pinot Grigio into the mix, so that there is something for every palate. Between a picturesque vineyard, chic tasting room and fantastic restaurant, the Renault Winery provides the perfect destination for a Jersey Shore day trip.
Kane Brewing Co.
Michael Kane, via Kane Brewing Facebook Page
Although Kane Brewing Company is a newcomer to the craft brewing scene in New Jersey, it is already making some serious waves with their special creations. Kane chiefly sticks to brewing American and Belgian style beers, using local ingredients from New Jersey whenever possible. Their Single Fin, a Belgian Blonde, is a favourite not only among the Jersey Shore crowd but throughout the state. Moreover, praises for their Head High IPA and Overhead Imperial IPA have been sung beyond states lines in New York City. Those travelling the bars of New Jersey will also recognize some of Kane's brews by their unique tap handles that are hand carved by their own employees from reclaimed old-growth pine. Beer enthusiasts can admire the full set of tap handles and sample all Kane Brewery has to offer at their main brewpub in Ocean City.
For those looking for something a little different, the small ocean side town of Vauxhill is proud to be home to New Jersey's very first meadery. Unlike regular wine, mead is simple wine made from honey instead of grapes and is quickly becoming the next big craft beverage around the United States. Melovino Meadery crafts their mead with all natural ingredients including raw, unprocessed honey and reverse osmosis water. Combined with fresh fruits and other natural flavours, they are able to create a wide variety of recipes that are sure to please any craft beverage aficionado. As of 2014, Melovino Meadery had 14 different flavours of mead available to sample in their tasting room or to take home. Lofty goals set for 2015 will see them expand production to 25 flavors, encompassing everything from sweet and fruity to slightly bitter and earthy.
If you're looking to plan a trip to the Jersey Shore, comb the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau website for upcoming events, attractions, accommodation and more.