Kegs & Corks: Willow Creek Winery

For this week’s edition of our “Kegs & Corks” special feature, we stopped by the Willow Creek Farm & Winery of West Cape May to explore exactly why so many Cape May County visitors have been enchanted by its serene and scenic landscape and dazzled by its original wines. Farm director Kevin Celli invited us to hop on board Willow Creek’s cherry red eco-friendly electric tour cart for a complete tour of the property’s fifty acres.

Willow Creek is currently home to over 7,000 mature vines planted in 2004, but farm staff has recently planted an additional 1800 young vines. In addition to these numerous species of grapes, the farm also cultivates figs, artichokes, asparagus, tomatoes, and potatoes and raises chickens, and look forward to goats, and pigs. Willow Creek has wholeheartedly embraced the sustainable agriculture and farm-to-table movements, looking to create custom cheeses with the milk from goats and serving up the meat of these carefully raised pigs at their monthly “wine toast pig roast”. The “Fancy Chicken Coop” is truly a sight to see, with its own curtains, front door, and a classy chandelier. “We want to do our part to keep the “garden” in the Garden State,” states Kevin.

On the farm’s daily vineyard tours, guests can learn about the growth of these vines and how to identify each specific grape. “What we really want to offer here is the beauty and the education of the vine to bottle process and the green movement to the Cape May County public,” explains director Kevin Celli. Tour patrons can also expect to discover why Willow Creek’s soil produces such a high quality crop of its ten types of grapes. “The unique micro-climate of the Cape May peninsula mirrors that of the Bordeaux region of France,” states Celli. The region’s cross breeze, sandy soil, excellent drainage, and exceptional number of “grow degree” days make all 6 of the Cape May County wineries optimal for producing incredible wines. In only a few short years, Cape May County has become a mecca for award-winning wineries. Willow Creek is the perfect place to discover why. “It’s amazing. New Jersey is now beating Spanish, Italian, and French winemakers at their own grapes,” says Celli passionately. Willow Creek staff is also sure to introduce guests to the some of their noblest red and white grape varieties, which they refer to as their “sons” and “daughters” respectively.

For those visitors who wish to become more actively involved the “vine to wine” process, Willow Creek Winery offers a unique opportunity through its “Adopt a Vine” yearly program. For a full twelve months of the year, foster parents receive a complete education in the maintenance of their adopted vines and are even encouraged to come out each month to care for the vines themselves. Each adoptive vine has a personalized marker identifying the name of each “parent” person or business. Members of the program receive 10% off all Willow Creek wine bottle purchases throughout the season, 1 refillable sangria growler, and are invited to exclusive wine events for members throughout the season.

Post-tour, guests can take a seat at the beautiful wine bar of Willow Creek’s 12,000 square foot post and beam winery for tastings of the estate wines and signature sangria slushies and wine cocktails. New this month, the Willow Creek Winery is looking to feature live jazz music Thursday afternoons and a series of local musicians each Monday night. Stop by on Sundays for wine-paired brunches, with menus crafted by renowned local Cape MAy County chefs and featuring fresh Cape May County produce and baked goods. The winery’s patio will soon feature a lite fare menu including breads, chocolates, cheeses, and antipasta from local Cape May businesses. Also coming soon to Willow Creek are an outdoor wine bar which will serve wine cocktails such as a Sauvignon Blanc Mojitos and a vineyard Bocce Ball court.

By Megan Kummer