New Jersey wines raise money for storm relief with every bottle

[image] A bottle or white and a bottle of red from What Exit Wines. (Photo by Arun Kristian Das)

When thinking of a way to help New Jersey rebuild from Superstorm Sandy's destruction, the folks at Old York Cellars winery realized they already had a fun and marketable product in the works that could also be used to raise money for storm relief: What Exit Wines, a line of table wines with customizable labels.

"When we saw the devastation of Hurricane Sandy last fall, we knew that we had to do our part to help residents of the Jersey Shore region and throughout the entire state," said David Wolin, the winery's owner.

The winery is located in Ringoes, a lush rural community in Hunterdon County. It partnered with outlets and restaurants to sell the red, white, and blush wines to consumers, who can custom order a label with their hometown, parkway exit, or other special message. Several premade labels are available, including "Stronger than the Storm," the slogan for the state's rebuilding efforts.

For each bottle sold, $1 will be donated to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, the state's official storm charity chaired by Mary Pat Christie, the governor's wife.

The wines sell for $18 a bottle on the winery's website. They are also available at the winery's tasting room in Ringoes; Tropicana, Resorts, and Caesar's in Atlantic City; Little Town NJ restaurant in Hoboken; and several more outlets in the state. The wines are doing brisk business since debuting in April. Little Town sells about 12 to 18 cases a week, according to Old York's sales manager, Jenny Tanner.

Old York Cellars makes wine with grapes from its own vineyard (some vines date back to the 1970s) and also sourced from California and elsewhere.

"We wanted to create clean crisp wines to pair with our Garden State's abundant farm fresh produce, fish, poultry and meats," said Scott Gares, the winemaker at Old York Cellars. "Some of my summer favorites are the What Exit White with a local mozzarella, Jersey ripe tomatoes and grilled corn on the cob. With the What Exit Red a steak grilled in the backyard and evening with my family and friends."

Old York Cellars is holding a launch party and storm relief fundraiser on July 6 from 12 to 5 p.m. for the What Exit Wines. The party will feature games, giveaways, and tastings.

The winery is also hosting a photo exhibition called "What Exit? The beauty, resilience and uniqueness of New Jersey." The winery and the artists have pledged 20 percent of exhibition sales toward the storm relief fund. The free exhibit runs through July 28.

"We developed What Exit Wines to celebrate one of the iconic features of New Jersey and every community in the state," Wolin said. "Everyone in the state knows what exit will lead them home."

Old York Cellars (80 Old York Road, Ringoes, N.J. 08551 | 908-284-9463 |, one of several wineries in the Delaware River Valley, is about 60 or so miles from Manhattan and about 45 miles from Philadelphia.

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