AWG Correspondent

Kat Collins

Laurita Vineyards & Winery Photos

Laurita Vineyards & Winery Review

Regions: Outer Coastal Plain AVA, New Jersey

Reviewed: June 5, 2016 by Kat Collins
Published: October 5, 2016

For those who know anything about New Egypt, New Jersey, and most of you probably don’t, vineyards and wineries aren’t the first things that come to mind. I grew up in New Egypt, and that certainly isn’t what I remember of the small “mom and pop” town. New Egypt is a rural setting (population of less than 3000) with nearly 40 acres of recreational fields and lakefront parks and a commitment to Farmland Preservation Programs. I often tell people I grew up in the “pineys and cornfields” which is a fairly accurate summation of New Egypt.

In the early 1900’s, the location - with its numerous lakes - thrived as a tourist and vacation attraction. New Egypt was also a major stop on the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Pemberton and Hightstown line but was abandoned in 1979. In 2010, the former roadbed was converted for rail trail use as the Union Transportation Trail. A drive downtown shows that much hasn’t changed. It’s still a small, rural town with a focus on farming and community. However, none of this makes you think vineyard and winery.

Yet, much to my surprise, I discovered a thriving winery and vineyard in my hometown! In 1998, Laurita Vineyards & Winery broke ground and planted their first 20 acres of vines in New Egypt. The winery is located in the Outer Coastal Plain American Viticultural Area (AVA) where the climate is influenced by the maritime effects of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay. The maritime effect contributes to the long growing season which spans 190 to 217 freeze-free days per year. Spring frosts that could damage buds or flowering are rare. Many of the vinifera varieties which are too cold-sensitive to be grown in much of the mid-Atlantic region can be grown here. Southeastern New Jersey vineyards are characterized by relatively flat or low hills and sandy or sandy loam soils. In addition to the initial 20 acres of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, Laurita has also planted an additional 20 acres of Pinot Gris, Lemberger, Chambourcin, Norton, and Zweigelt.

New Jersey’s nickname, the Garden State, is primarily derived from its more than 100-year history of growing fruits and vegetables. Within the AVA is the 1.1 million acre Pinelands National Reserve, created in 1978 by Congress as the nation’s first National Reserve. The Pinelands is the largest body of open space between Boston and Richmond. Although much of the sandy soil within the National Reserve is of low pH and well known for its cranberry and blueberry production, viticulture is well supported by soil and climate in the Pinelands periphery and in the remaining million plus acres of the Outer Coastal Plain AVA which are located outside the Pinelands.

Laurita Winery is known for its local, sustainable, and authentic philosophy. Their goal is to be as true to the character of the fruit as possible with a focus on creating wines that are a complement to food. Laurita, with its structure and interior built mostly from recycled or reclaimed materials, is also an eco destination. The skeleton of the building, which dictated the size of the winery which is 20,000 square feet, was formed through the merging of two 150-year-old barns that had been destined for demolition. The winery utilizes solar systems to produce clean energy for heat, hot water, steam, cooling, and refrigeration.

The landscaping surrounding the winery emphasizes the value of water retention and conservation as does the method by which the vineyards are irrigated. Randy Johnson and Ray Shea, owners of Laurita Winery, have preserved and enhanced the existing natural environment with the intent of providing habitat for wildlife including birds, mammals, and amphibians. The dedication to the land and environment is in full view as you wander the vineyards and winery grounds. Rich marshland is everywhere as you walk covered bridges and pathways up to the winery. The view from atop the hill is stunning. Farmland, vineyards, and marshes as far as the eye can see.

The inside of the massive winery is meant for rocking good times and fun! Plenty of event space, a small cafe to nourish your hunger, large bars to belly up to for tastings, and an outdoor patio with stunning views overlooking the vineyards. You can tell that although they take their winemaking seriously, it’s not a snobbish affair. It’s all about having a good time with delicious wine and friends. Laurita also hosts private events and weddings, and the winery shares the property with the Inn at Laurita Winery, the Healing Spirits Spa, and the Laurita Equestrian Center.

We enjoyed our tasting of 6 wines for $7.00. One of the selections was their homemade sangria which was a blend of their Tailgate Red wine and a mix of puréed fruits. Deliciously fruity and perfect for the hot summer day. Another favorite was their 2013 Naked Chardonnay, crisp and clean, with bright fruit and acidity. We loved it so much we drank it the next day with Shrimp Scampi and are now regretting we didn’t buy more of it. The only disappointment was that our bartender didn’t seem to know much about the wines or the history of the winery, but she made up for it in personality and attention.

I have to say, I never thought I would see the day that a successful winery and vineyard would be located in my childhood hometown, but I’m quite happy that Laurita Winery saw the potential and put down roots, or vines, so to speak. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed. And while in the area, plan on visiting some of the other wineries on the Outer Coastal Plain AVA. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Address & Contact Information: 85 Archertown Road New Egypt, New Jersey 08533. Telephone: 609-758-8000, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Wed 4:00-9:00, Thurs-Sat 12:00-9:00, Sun 12:00-7:00.

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