Myriad varietals are planted on Unionville Vineyards’ New Jersey estate, but General Manager John Cifelli told Vintner Magazine it’s the hybrids — like Chambourcin and Vidal Blanc — that give it the fuel it needs to produce its Port and icewine-style dessert wine.
The wines aren’t afterthoughts or experiments, with each requiring a specific amount of time, resources and materials.
“The two dessert wines we make give us a chance to elevate the hybrids we grow into something exceptional — these are genuine fine wines,” Cifelli said. “The icewine-style Vidal Blanc requires a commercial freezer as it is concentrated through cryogenic distillation. The Port requires lots and lots of barrels, as we leave this wine in the barrel for up to 15 years.”
The sweet offerings are always popular with customers, but for the moment they’re the focus of a Valentine’s Day weekend promotion.
The Cool Foxy Lady is an icewine-style dessert wine that is returning to the tasting lineup for the first time since last spring, and the Vat #27 Port is blended from 10 different vintages of Port production spanning from 2009 to 2020 of varying fruitiness to tawniness, the latter of which is achieved by years of gradual oxidation in the barrel.
“Everyone loves our Port across all customer demographics,” Cifelli told Vintner. “The white dessert wine consumer is unique, skewing female and older.”
The winery partnered with the nearby Blawenburg Bistro to design three truffles meant to be enjoyed alongside the two dessert wines and The Big O, a red blend that’s 50% Cabernet Franc.
“Partnering with other businesses presents a branding opportunity,” Cifelli said. “I only associate with other artisan craft producers, and I make sure people see the affiliation in our marketing.”