In what appears to be a first-of-its-kind commercial endeavor, a South Jersey winery is selling wine aged on hops normally used for brewing beer. As of last week, Valenzano Winery in Burlington County has released the first of what may end up being a series of hopped Chardonnays, which are available for around $15 a bottle at South Jersey liquor stores like the Joe Canal’s chain and WineWorks in Medford.
Winemaker/homebrewer Michael Jones says as a hophead who works at a winery owned by a beer geek, the idea emerged–as ideas so often do–over pints.
“We were drinking some really good IPAs and we thought, ‘Why don’t we try putting hops in the wine?’” he recounts.
Initially, Jones tried out the idea with 50 gallons of the winery’s 2012 Chardonnay, which is aged in stainless steel and lightly oaked with wood chips. He put glasses up for sale in the tasting room and customers went crazy for the bright, citrusy, high-acid wine, made funkier with the Citra hops. So the next logical step, of course, was to dump the hop into 500 gallons of liquid.
“It’s cool and unique because you don’t usually have chance to taste hops without the malt backbone,” he says. “So you’re really just going for some great aromas and a smoother and heavier mouthfeel. It really lets the hop shine.”
Jones calls the wine “Bine & Vine,” and he’s so excited about the idea, he plans to experiment with different hops and maybe different grapes. Just like a brewer, huh?
Valenzano Winery [official]