Imagine beautiful rolling hills covered with straight rows of vines, each laden with jewel-like clusters of grapes that ripen slowly under the sun. Glasses of vibrant red and luscious white wine eagerly await your taste buds. From bold blackberry to subtle honeysuckle, you savor each nuanced flavor with every sip.
Sounds like Napa, right? Or Sonoma? Not in this case. You can find that scene—and that much crispy, fruity wine—right here in Mercer County, New Jersey.
“I often tell people that if you haven’t had a bottle of NJ wines in 10-15 years, you won’t recognize it,” Jeffrey Vasser, the executive director of New Jersey’s Division of Travel & Tourism, told Travel + Leisure magazine.
Yes, the wine scene here is that good.
Every vineyard and orchard in Mercer County offers a tasteful blend of rural charm, sophistication and award-winning brands sure to captivate your senses. Below are a few of our favorite destinations.
Terhune Orchards & Winery, Princeton
Terhune Orchards & Winery in Princeton is not just a wine lover's paradise but also a major attraction for local families. It wasn’t quite that when owners Pam and Gary Mount bought the property in 1975. Then, the farm had 55 acres of apples and peach trees, a few pear trees and a 1930s farm store where apples and cider were sold.
Today, the locale has expanded to 250 acres and more than 50 varieties of crops. It also has a diversified offering that ranges from apple picking in the autumn to wine tasting year-round. What’s more, it’s one of the few operating family farms in New Jersey to have a tasting room and a winery, the latter of which is in an open-air setting on the locale’s 100-year-old historic apple orchard.
All award-winning craft wines are made using the fruits grown right on their property. That makes the flavors as fresh as they come. Their Apple Wine and Harvest Blues, a blueberry wine with a crisp apple finish, are instant crowd-pleasers.
Hopewell Valley Vineyards, Pennington
Owner and master vintner Sergio Neri is reportedly a man of many talents. He’s an accomplished jazz pianist, a builder and a patent-holding inventor. Top on the list, perhaps, is crafting outstanding wines. Drawing upon a family winemaking tradition that extends generations in the Brunello di Montalcino region of Italy, the Milan native now pours his wine-drenched heritage into every bottle and glass at Hopewell Valley Vineyards.
Located in the serene hills of Hopewell Township, the vineyard is the winner of multiple awards from local, national and international wine competitions. The key, they say, is handcrafting wines that blend “old world traditions with new world flair” and serving it in a relaxing, quaint environment with live music and a selection of artisanal cheeses.
Working Dog Winery, Robbinsville
Many wineries say they’re award-winning—and in Mercer County, New Jersey, almost all are. But some back their claim with an inspiring scrolling webpage of honors. Such is the case for Working Dog Winery, formerly known as Silver Decoy. It’s a gem of a wine scene, home to multiple award-winning wine flavors. Champion bottles include the Traminette, a 2021 silver medal winner, the Retriever, a 2019 silver award-winner, and the Cabernet Franc, a 2019 gold medal winner, each from the Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition.
The winery's name pays homage to the winemaker’s hardworking dogs that roam the picturesque property. In fact, it’s relaxed, pet-friendly atmosphere makes it a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Altogether, the winery has 17 acres of grapes under cultivation and produces 4,000 cases of wine annually.
The above is just a tantalizing taste of the fruitful adventures that await you. Thirsty for more? Uncork the full bouquet of local wineries and orchards in Mercer County at visitprinceton.org.