New Jersey wine-making is going strong
New Jersey Wine Week is being celebrated by an industry that by all measures is booming right now.
In 2015, New Jersey wineries collectively produced a record 530,000 gallons of their product.
Tom Cosentino, executive director of the Garden State Wine Growers Association, says it is booming because there is a great interest in wine and more and more people are drinking it.
But Cosentino says it's not just quantity — it's quality.
"In a blind taste test against the best that other states have to offer, we are winning medals."
There are over 50 wineries in New Jersey right now, up from just a handful in the year 2000. Since then, there have been more than 35 wineries added.
New Jersey is consistently ranked in the top 10 for wine production in the United States.
Cosentino says that up until 1981, there were only six wineries in the state because Prohibition kept the fledgling industry down. Under New Jersey's laws, the population had to increase by a million before a new vineyard could open. But in 1981, the Farm Winery Act was passed. Since then, the state has seen a gradual increase in wineries.
Cosentino says this week wineries are offering celebrations and wine-tastings statewide. The celebration of New Jersey Wine Week is also an extension of the fall agritourism push in the state.
"There is a big trend today in New Jersey of farm to table and everyone wants to know where their local food source is," he said.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.