Beneduce Vineyards Offers Aromatically Intense, Food-Friendly Wines
By Taylor Smith
Beneduce Vineyards in Pittstown, Hunterdon County, is a passion project of Michael Beneduce Sr. and his son, Mike Beneduce Jr. As a family rooted in farming for multiple generations, the Beneduces have a distinct love and understanding of the Garden State’s soil.
Hunterdon County in particular benefits from a unique geography that acts as a drainage basin for the Delaware River. Rolling hills and rich soils produce a bounty of agricultural crops. In fact, according to the NJ Department of Agriculture’s Annual Report, Hunterdon County leads the state in the number of farms, total cropland, hay production, number of farms with cattle, total number of beef cows, and number of sheep (https://www.nj.gov/agriculture/).
The Beneduces say that their intention is to produce the highest quality wines possible out of their family’s soil — “no cutting corners.” It was for this reason that Mike Beneduce Jr. chose to study cool-climate grape growing at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Armed with undergraduate degrees in plant sciences and viticulture/enology, he immersed himself in grape growing, vineyard management, distillation practices, grape flavor chemistry, pruning, and more.
It is estimated that New York’s Finger Lakes region is home to more than 11,000 acres of vineyard, and the majority of Beneduce’s coursework included hands-on fieldwork in area vineyards. He took this knowledge back to New Jersey and proceeded to become a certified sommelier under the Court of Master Sommeliers. He remains an active and professional member of the international gastronomic society, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. Previously serving as chairman of the Garden State Winegrowers Association, Mike Beneduce Jr. was named Edible Jersey’s Beverage Artisan of the Year in 2017.
Mike Beneduce Jr.
The white varieties featured at Beneduce Vineyards include Chardonnay, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer (which originated in Germany but over several hundreds of years is associated generally with Alpine Europe). Plantings of red grapes include Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and an Austrian named Blaufränkisch.
As described on their website, the wines at Beneduce Vineyards tend to be aromatic. One of the red standouts is Blue 2, a Blaukrankisch that is “both rich and refreshing with concentrated notes of mulberries, Applewood smoked bacon, and Chinese five spice.” A staff favorite is Tuxedo, a full bodied white Pinot Noir possessing a rose color. This wine is described as having notes of “Rainier cherry, creamsicle, and burnt sugar.” If you prefer a more rustic or savory wine, Mangione is a Tuscan-style wine blended from Beneduce’s top barrels of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
Wine tastings at Beneduce Vineyards take place from 12 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday and 12 to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For $5, guests can sample five different wines. The $15 deluxe tasting includes regional artisan cheeses and cured meats. Seating is available in the tasting room and outside on the stone patio. Live music performances occur every Saturday and Sunday night, year-round (admission is $10). Wines are available by the glass or bottle. Food trucks provide ample choices, but guests are also welcome to pack their own picnic basket.
Beneduce Vineyards is located at 1 Jeremiah Lane in Pittstown. For more information, call 908. 996.3823 or visit https://beneducevineyards.com/.