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UNCORK Spring! with Carteret: Perfect Way to Celebrate New Beginnings!


By: Najla Alexander

Hello, RLS Media friends and family! Despite the rainy weekend, I had the opportunity to attend one of my first wine and food experience events right here in Carteret. What better way to kick off Spring than with fantastic wine and even more delicious food?AdUNCORK Spring! organized by Carteret PAC Director Diana St. John and produced by Kathy Bullock, vice president of Ocean County-based GPS Inc., an events producer for over 20 years, including over 150 wine-related festivals, helped Carteret hold its first-ever indoor wine and food experience.


At the request of the Honorable Carteret Mayor Daniel J. Reiman, UNCORK Spring! took place indoors from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 23, at the URSB Carteret Performing Arts & Events Center.

The rain couldn't dampen the community's spirit as we delved into local small businesses and savored some exquisite wines. Upon arrival, guests were welcomed with a complimentary wine glass and given a list of all the available wines to enjoy and possibly purchase.


"No other indoor New Jersey wine event is bringing together multiple New Jersey wineries or offering patrons a "wine and food experience," organizers said.

"Past UNCORK Spring! Wine festivals have been outdoor events," Bullock stated.


"All of them taking place pre-COVID. They were very successful but, obviously, a different type of event. When the opportunity was presented to host a spring event at an indoor location, it seemed a natural transition to bring back UNCORK Spring! in a new, exciting way."

According to officials, New Jersey wineries throughout the state were invited to participate in the event, and the wines being poured were selected by the wineries.


For only $35 in advance or $40 on the day of the event, patrons was able to sample and purchase from approximately 125 wines while enjoying selected food pairings as part of their admission.

The first two floors were filled with various vendors and wine you could mingle with the people you see from your community every day and get to know many of the small businesses here in New Jersey on a personal level!


"Taking place at the beautiful CPAC means that this event is bringing the New Jersey wine industry to an area of the state that has not seen many New Jersey wine-related events. There is no better way to unveil a new wine event to this part of the state than at a state-of-the-art facility like CPAC," Bullock said. 

Eleven of the wineries participated in UNCORK Spring!, and nearly half of them are among the Top 14 New Jersey wineries, according to the nationally revered Tasting Table magazine.


"In an indoor setting like this, I am certain many wineries will bring some of their high-end fine wines, which are often limited at outdoor events. Basically, indoor events lend themselves better to presenting fine wines. Highly likely, though, we will even see sangria, seltzers and hard ciders offered for sample and sale too."

According to the organizers, many of the 125 wines that will be sampled at UNCORK Spring! are being recognized nationally and internationally for their quality and flavor, winning awards and prestigious wine competitions.


Bullock said, "Whether a wine connoisseur or new wine drinker, patrons will be able to learn more about the amazing New Jersey wine industry at UNCORK Spring!"

She said, "Patrons will have the chance to meet many of the winemakers and learn firsthand about their wines and wineries."


I had the pleasure of hearing about each winery's unique way of making its wine special.

Whether it was a different brewing technique, special packaging, etc., each one made sure to have that special notion about them to make them different from the next.   


Participating wineries were:

Tomasello Winery, multiple locations 

Plagido's Winery, Hammonton 

Valenzano Family Winery, Shamong 

Villari Vineyards, Sewell 

Wagonhouse Winery, Swedesboro 

DiMatteo Vineyards, Hammonton 

Angelico Winery, Lambertville 

The Vintner's Wife, Swedesboro 

Bellview Winery, Landisville 

Salem Oak Vineyard, Pedricktown 

Autumn Lake Winery, Williamstown


Officials stated that Tomasello Winery, Valenzano Winery, Bellview Winery, Salem Oak Vineyards, and Autumn Lake Winery were among those voted the 14 Best NJ Wineries by Table Tasting magazine.

There were so many wonderfully tasting wines that my pallet was overwhelmed with fruity hints. I could not choose a favorite, but one in particular that I kept thinking about was the Sangria from Plagido's Winery, which leaves the sweetest pineapple taste lingering in your mouth.


This flavor was sold by the pouch and was so popular that it flew off the shelves. It's a bit on the sweet side, but if you are like me, then their selection is something you will enjoy, too!

Wine samples were paired with tastings of the following dishes:

· Sweet and Savory Mini Meatballs with Scallions

· Thai Chicken Satay Skewers

· Mojo Marinated Grilled Shrimp

· Roasted Red Grapes on Herbed Ricotta Crostini

· Dessert sampler


"I think for its' first indoor wine event, it was done well and had a nice turnout," a community member stated.

The feedback I constantly got from patrons enjoying the event was astounding about the turnout. Participants couldn't get over how many unique selections of wines there were, not to mention the food pairings that came out throughout the night.


"Supporting the New Jersey wine industry is extremely important to our state's vibrant agri-tourism industry," Bullock said.

"New Jersey wineries play a major role in agri-tourism. Events like UNCORK Spring! are a significant part of continuing to support our state's Jersey Fresh initiatives and support the very popular trend of 'Buy Local.'"


It was indeed a treat to immerse myself in an event like this and hear from local businesses about the work they love to do. It was such an amazing way to ring in Spring and the new beginnings that are clearly ahead for my wonderful community.

Supporting such local businesses is vital to seeing a community like ours thrive and grow, showing those on the outside what it means to be part of Carteret, NJ.


My colleagues at RLS Media and I are excited to see what the warm weather brings, especially with the contributions from the lovely and hardworking people in Carteret, which are sure to make this summer amazing!