Creating Innovative Wines for the Young Consumer With Jerry Amabile of Cream Ridge Winery

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Jul 7, 2022

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Creating Innovative Wines for the Young Consumer With Jerry Amabile of Cream Ridge Winery

Last Updated on July 7, 2022 by

Jerry Amabile

Jerry Amabile is the President of Cream Ridge Winery, which is dedicated to crafting quality, natural wines and providing exceptional customer service. Established in Cream Ridge, New Jersey in 1988, Cream Ridge was the seventh winery at the time, making it one of the oldest in the state. Today, Cream Ridge creates innovative wines from native varietals and fruits from their orchard.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Jerry Amabile reveals the origin of Cream Ridge Winery
  • What are Cream Ridge’s unique wine blends?
  • Cream Ridge’s inspiration for fruit wines and how they make them
  • Jerry’s strategy for creating a memorable wine tasting experience
  • How Jerry crafts Cream Ridge’s wines for the consumer
  • The importance of trial and error in winemaking
  • Tips for collaborating with other wineries to maximize wine consumption
  • How Cream Ridge is pioneering and changing the wine industry

In this episode with Jerry Amabile

In today’s dynamic industry, many wineries have experienced a decline in consumption among younger generations who are progressing more toward sweet beverages. So, how can you adapt to these demands and restore their interest in wine?

Jerry Amabile has an innovative solution. His winery cultivates local fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and mangos to create unique fruit wines that mimic the taste of craft beverages. By modifying these wines to accommodate individual preferences, Jerry persuades even the most hesitant of consumers. Now, he’s urging wineries to carefully observe their audience to create authentic wines. 

Join Drew Thomas Hendricks and Bianca Harmon on today’s episode of Legends Behind the Craft as they talk with Jerry Amabile, President of Cream Ridge Winery, about leveraging consumer trends to increase wine consumption. Jerry discusses his strategy for creating a memorable wine tasting experience, how Cream Ridge crafts their wines for the consumer, and tips for maximizing wine consumption.


Resources Mentioned in this episode

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

Welcome to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where we feature top leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry with your host Drew Hendricks. Now let’s get started with the show.

Drew Hendricks  0:19  

Drew Thomas Hendricks here I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. Past guests of Legends Behind the Craft include John Kochis of black family estates, Barry Waitte of Tamber Bey, and James King of King family vineyards. If you haven’t listened to these yet, you got to check them out and subscribe. Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead, at Barrels Ahead, we work with you to implement a one of a kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story and connects you with your ideal customers. In short, we help wineries and craft beverage producers unlock their story to unleash their revenue. Go to today to learn more. Talking about Barrels Ahead today I’ve got Bianca Harmon on the show again, Bianca is one of our direct consumer marketing strategists. If you want to level up your direct and Super Game, gotta give her a call. How’s it going, Bianca?

Bianca Harmon  1:12  

It’s going good thanks Drew excited to talk to Jerry today and learn all about this fruit wine coming from New Jersey. Yeah, this

Drew Hendricks  1:20  

is this is gonna be exciting. So today’s guest is Jerry Amabile. Jerry is a founding member and president of Cream Ridge Winery located in Cream Ridge, New Jersey. Cream Ridge Winery was established in 1988. At the time was the seventh winery in New Jersey, making it one of the oldest. Today the team at Cream Ridge is doing some really exciting things with their wines. They’re pushing the envelope not only with native varietals, but with fruits from their orchards. Welcome to the show, Jerry.

Jerry Amabile  1:50  

Hey, thanks, Drew. Thanks, Bianca. It’s great being here.

Drew Hendricks  1:53  

So awesome to have you on. So Jerry, I gotta know how did you guys get started how to Cream Ridge winery come to fruition.

Jerry Amabile  2:01  

My mother and father at the ripe old age of 58 decided to put all the retirement savings on the line including their house and open up the seventh winery in the state. And, you know, there’s a lot of hills and valleys. But dad was always made one in the basement of our home growing up because I am half Italian and half Irish. And that was the thing to do.

Drew Hendricks  2:23  

Sounds good. Now how do they fight and how they settle on Cream Ridge.

Jerry Amabile  2:27  

You know, actually, we we had a small little winery in the town that I actually am living in right now in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. And my dad was a winemaker there with his best friend. And he was a developer and we opened up a small winery out there in 1979 that got his chops, but that the long commute of three and a half hours each way, took its toll. And then the winery industry in New Jersey was changing that if you had six acres of land, you could build a winery and you can start selling wine. So then at that time, my parents stumbled on that property on the way down to the New Jersey shore. And the rest is history.

Drew Hendricks  3:06  

Wow. Tell us a little bit about this property and what makes it special.

Jerry Amabile  3:10  

You know, it’s a beautiful route to take down the shore without having to get on any major roads. It’s Cream Ridge, like is came up with the name from cream of the crop. So it’s a beautiful sandy, sandy loam soil. It’s in right in the middle of a horse country. We actually have a 400 acre farm across from us that the Moreland family owns. So it’s an absolutely beautiful location. But back in 1988, there wasn’t as many people drinking wine as your generation is now. So if you can just imagine me standing out on the middle of the highway wearing a great outfit. What I had to deal with back then

Drew Hendricks  3:53  

the precursor to the sign spinner.

Jerry Amabile  3:57  

Oh, you are not kidding. But you know, back in the 80s it was long hair perm and a moustache. So it was it was just a great thing all around through the auto just a great thing. Yeah,

Drew Hendricks  4:07  

that’s fine. How so what tell me about the acreage and what you have planted?

Jerry Amabile  4:12  

Yeah, we predominate. We all started with with some varietals, and then French American hybrids, schamber sin and save all grapes. And then Concord Niagara for dunya. And as the years kind of developed over the years, when we lost a crops because we really weren’t in the growing business. We were in the winemaking business. We had to have grapes to grow ones wet, we lost. We would replant with Fredonia, which the they would consider the super Concord so it’s got a lot of a flair of a Concord, but having more of a velvety finish doesn’t have to be as sweet of a of a grape. And And with that, we now we have about six acres of grapes We have a couple acres of plums, we’re raising our own bees. We just started planting blackberries. We went Permian culture 10 years ago this this summer, so we haven’t used herbicides or pesticides since then. So we’re really more of a showcase of what you can do. It’s not a much of a risk level forest. And if we were to actually lose our grapes to a bad winter, so we’ve leaned on and partnered with other other growers throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, California, depending on who we know, and, and we had a lot of developed a lot of relationships over the years, so Well, yeah. We have a nice rhythm in place. And the wines and the wines are just spectacular. And I’m not just being biased.

Drew Hendricks  5:49  

No, the lineup looks stellar. I mean, talking about for Donia for a bit. Yeah, you’re 99 rows. Yeah. And that’s a bridle I’m not familiar with, to some of us out west, you really don’t have access to that bridle. Describe it and kind of give us a little insight there.

Jerry Amabile  6:07  

Yeah. So, you know, my father always called it the super Concord. So you know, Concord grape grape, Welch’s grape juice, that is the Eastern grown labrusca variety. And the st. That’s the red grape, the white grape would be Niagara, the pink grape, and that family of labrusca is pink Catawba. And then, pretty much the grandfather of the mall is what they would call for Donia. And it’s got a lot more of a flair. That it’s not you don’t have to feel like you’re you’re drinking communion wine, you’re now drinking something that’s got more of a I like to say a lavender finish. So we love blending it with a couple of our sangrias to lightly sweetened it up our 99 Rose because it’s predominantly for dunya is lightly sweet. It’s just got a great finish. It’s easy drinking wine. And you know, unlike the West Coast, you know, palates are different in every region of the country. In our area, especially the younger generation. They like drinking something a bit little bit lightly sweet. And that is generally speaking, where we introduce people to drinking wine because if they want to drink red wine, they tend to want to have something a little sweeter. When they’re in the when they’re younger. And as you develop and drink more just like drinking coffee. You start sweating and having it with milk and cream and sugar. You tend to go dry it and then to the varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon. Pinot Noir says you have AC and so forth.

Drew Hendricks  7:41  

Yeah, it is it is a good gateway. It sounds it sounds fantastic. Yeah. Now, actually, that kind of leads me into kind of your lineup, you’ve got an impressive lineup of wines that span both from like, the dry wines to the sweet wines to like you got a sparkling brachetto which is one of my favorites. I love a good Brocato

Jerry Amabile  7:59  

is a great morning breakfast wine is what I like to call it. Yes.

Drew Hendricks  8:05  

And then and then just pure fruit wines. I mean, that’s talk to me about your fruit wines in addition to your kind of your great wines.

Jerry Amabile  8:13  

Yeah, Dad was considered one of the pioneer and grandfather of fruit wines. And you know, when when God made grapes, he made the perfect fruit to turn into wine, it has the perfect amount of pH and acidity, well, you can make wines from other fruits, it just is a little bit more difficult. Because certain things are missing, some have too much sugar, some have too much pH or acidity. So you got to balance that off in order to get it to a wine where we like to keep our fruit pints at around 11%. So it’s easy drinking, you can get it at 14 or 16. And you can’t have it with a meal. So say for instance, our mangoes we sourced them at a Costa Rica our mango wines that 11% It’s likely sweets at about three and a half percent residual sweetness. I only take that wine with me when I go out for Thai or Indian food. I don’t have to try to try to pair it with a white or red. And because when you’re sweating profusely and bleeding out of your eyes because of those kinds of cuisines manga wine, is it takes care of everything. And so that is the only wine I take with me. No doubt about it. It just is so great. And of course I always say if you’re drinking a wine made from our fruit wines and they’re 100% fruit. If you like mangoes, you’re gonna love the Mangawhai if you’d like cranberries, and you know our state is one of the largest producers of cranberries in the country, we have to make cranberry wine, you’re gonna love our cranberry wine. It’s not so sweet, where you don’t taste the tartness because you want to taste the tartness of cranberry. So if you are literally tasting 100% Cranberry wine, it is it’s just fantastic. It’s easy drinking and then if you want to pair it with With with food, then we can go that route as well. But for me like cranberry wine, I love it as a great sipping wine, especially if we still have it in the late spring, which I still have it in stock probably will be out another month or so. It’s just delightful. It’s just delightful.

Bianca Harmon  10:16  

So how is the what’s the process? Like when you’re bringing in this mango juice from Costa Rica? I mean, how are you finding these people? How’s it you know, the process?

Jerry Amabile  10:27  

Well, you know, that’s a great question. You know, when, when we first opened up, mangoes weren’t even available in the supermarket. So that wasn’t even a part of vocabulary. In fact, I don’t think my parents even knew what a mango was 34 years ago, I don’t eat meat, perhaps I didn’t either. And so as the industry developed, especially the natural food and organic industry and the supermarket, retail industry grew, more and more became available, your relationships develop from the fruits that you were buying at the local level, all of a sudden opened up to at the international level. So you start to wonder if I can make a wine made from strawberries grown down the street, what about mangoes? And then again, all of a sudden opened up? What about passion fruit? Wow. And, and the only way you know is to bring in the juice, convert it into wine, and then see what it tastes like. And when you do and you hit it out of the park, you know, and our tropical fruits. I don’t know anybody in in the world that’s making a tropical fruit wine. With effervescence made from mangoes and pasture fruit. I just don’t know anybody doing it. Man, when you taste it, you’re like, Oh my God, I’ve never had anything like this. This is spectacular. And that, to me, is the essence of why, you know, there’s so many varieties out there of grape varietals. Well, you can make other things too. And that experience for a wine connoisseur? Well, it opens their mind. And for me, it’s the paradigm shift of a lifetime. Yes. And that’s what I love. I love seeing that. When that happens at the winery. And what I do at farmer’s markets,

Drew Hendricks  12:16  

I can imagine the general consumer coming in a lot of people may be a little sceptical, right about the fact that there’s fruit wine and it can’t possibly be good. That’s a little bit of a prejudice, because we’re, you know, we’re used to just grey point. That’s right. What is that? I mean, tell me the most about a couple stories of some aha moments where someone comes in their life was just turned around. And they Oh, yes.

Jerry Amabile  12:39  

Oh, yeah. It’s, you know, I grew up in the wine industry. I left for 25 years and went into the organic and natural specialty food business. So many of my friends worked for a small little company called Whole Foods. I don’t know if you heard of them. But I grew up with them. They all became leaders in the industry. And I can remember, and we were all foodies, and we all love wine. And I love my Brunello democra chinos, just like everybody else does. But I always said, Hey, we, you know, we, at our winery, and we don’t sell wholesale, we make wines from fruit. Now I would, I could never drink that. And then, over the years that you start, and especially in the last seven to 10 years, you started to see them at Whole Foods. And then I would get a call from my buddy and go, Oh, my God, Jerry. Now I understood what you’re talking about. I said, I know. I said, you know, it’s, it’s possible to make a wine from another fruit. And then the experience, it kind of is it’s mind altering. And yes, like I said before, it’s it’s a paradigm shift. And I love it. And I have the stomach for it when people come in and just say I only drink reds. And I know you do, and we’re going to taste our ribs. But then I’m going to want you to taste a fruit line. And do you trust me? And I looked him straight in the eye. And they’ll say, Yeah, I said, Well, that’s where your first mistake is, but we’re gonna walk down. And, and then I have them and odds are, they’re gonna buy, you know, maybe a cab land or cap frog or send your Vaizey that’s, but they’re buying a fruit wine because that it was part of that experience. And that, my friends, if there’s anything you can take away in the wine industry. It’s so unique because wine is a memory. You don’t go you don’t like when you’re on your 21st birthday or when you got engaged, or when you had your first incredible meal in Italy. You remember the wine that you had? It’s a memory. You don’t say, oh, I can remember my first glass of vodka? I don’t think so. People come into our winery when they were 21 years old, and now they’re in their late 50s And they’ll still buy that one particular wine that they don’t, they don’t drink that kind anymore. They don’t drink that sweeter wine, but they might because it’s their memory and their senses. And they’ll sip it and go. God, I remember that I had, I had blonde hair back then. And man, this was before kids. Oh my goodness, it all the memories come just surging back, and that is wine. And as a Christian, hey, Jesus first miracle was water into wine. There’s a reason why he chose water into wine. He didn’t say water into vodka, or water into beer II chose wine. And wine has all these incredible, incredible memories that come running back to you. And it is an absolutely beautiful thing. And I love seeing that when people walk through the door that they were there when they were little kids, their parents would bring them and now they’re drinking. And all these memories are coming back. It’s just an awesome experience.

Bianca Harmon  15:51  

For people walking through your door where where are these people actually coming from? Is that a lot of locals? Do you get a lot of tourism out there from around the country? Are

Jerry Amabile  16:01  

we a little bit of both, we have some incredible customers that have been supporting us especially during COVID That, you know 30% of small businesses of which we are failed in New Jersey, Dora COVID They would bring us meals, they and I’m talking Mrs. Castellano from an hour and a half away in North Jersey. And she’s my mother’s age 89 makes the best lasagna, and chicken parm that you would ever eat your life, they would come from those distances, we have customers that are very supportive of that. But we also have an industry that supports the Six Flags amusement park, which is only 10 minutes from us. And then the industry in general, not only in New Jersey, but Pennsylvania, Virginia. It is a agro business that is unlike any other. So we’re driven by weather. And we’re, we’re driven by they want a good experience and I’m all I know is this, you will have a great experience with our team because they share the same, the same same philosophy that my my dad had, that I have, you got to be compassionate, you got to find out what kind of wines they like, or if they haven’t consumed any wine, they never liked wine. I love that when data have never consumed wine, because they never liked the wine. I’m gonna find something that you’re gonna like that enthusiasm just goes right over to the customer. And, and they’re a part of it. And odds are they’re gonna be a repeat customer if they if they live within an hour and a half ratio of the winery.

Drew Hendricks  17:39  

Yeah. Want to go back to what to one thing or on the different all the fruit wines and all the different perceptions and especially experience in the natural food business through Whole Foods. We’ve got the younger Gen Z’s Millennials are now older, but they’re still younger. But the Gen Z is now they’ve grown up in the craft beverage industry they’ve grown up with and they’re now they’re introduced alcohol with seltzer is how hard seltzer has come Bucha has craft beers. I would think that actually you’re in the exact perfect place to introduce them to wine because they’re more receptive to all these many different types of alcoholic drinks.

Jerry Amabile  18:22  

You totally nailed it true. Absolutely. Unequivocally. People who are drinking can Bucha of which one I am craft brews, which I loved from the beginning when they started. I told my dad when he was alive, and I was in my late 20s Dad, there was a microbrewery just opened up in Princeton, he goes concentrate Jerry where it’s selling why? But it took years. And let me tell you, those folks who are anybody who’s going is going to a craft brewery, there are customer because then they can appreciate you know, they they appreciate a stout infused with coconut or, or coffee. I make a blackberry wine steeped with organic coffee beans, what what you get there, they will go, Oh, I gotta have it. I go, Oh, I know you’re gonna have that. But you’re not going to have that yet. You’re going to taste. You’re going to taste our cocoa currant with black currant and cocoa first and then you’re going to taste the coffee to finish your day instead of having a tiramisu at the end of the day. With your dinner. No, you’re going to have a nice glass of Java berry instead, when they tasted, I just know. I know we have them because they’re in our wheelhouse. And then they can appreciate small batches. And that’s what we do. We can’t we couldn’t do all the wines we do if we were a large winery. It is very difficult. Bianca and Drew to be able to stay small than to grow large eight to 10% a year because I worked for many companies. And it was much easier having to be able to grow year in year out finding new customers I had that’s easy to do. Staying small and unique. And craft is a lot more fun. fficult but you know what you have these customers like you just mentioned that come in, week in week out, want to know what’s new, what’s different. And we took, we took their lead because they’re so unique, that you know the ciders that the craft brews that they don’t have them all the time. And I love that I, I love that idea that oh, darn it, I ran out. But oh, wait a minute, you have something new here. Let’s try it. And when you try something, isn’t it the best? I find that not only am I happy if somebody doesn’t like it. Now I know that they’re not buying it. Because if they take it home, and they don’t like it, oh my goodness, I’d rather you taste it and not like it and then find something that you do. Yeah, you’re not buying it on, on the label. You’re buying it on taste. And that is the

Drew Hendricks  20:48  

beautiful thing is I love how broad the horizons have gotten. Like, I’m so focused. You’re not kidding. I love you.

Jerry Amabile  20:57  

Well, thank you. If you would have met my father, he was the same way. But you know, he, his worst curse word was Gosh, darn it all.

Bianca Harmon  21:08  

I’m a little bit I learned a lot from him.

Jerry Amabile  21:12  

I learned a lot from him. I’m Yes. I’m not as I’m a little bit more edgier. But yes, I do get my passion from my father. Yeah. So

Bianca Harmon  21:21  

what is the you know, back to all these different wines you were talking about making you know with espresso oil or coffee bean oil. And so what is like the shelf life on something like this, you know, you can age cab wines, you can you know, can age cab for 20 plus years you can so what are how long is the shelf life on something like this for you?

Jerry Amabile  21:41  

You know what I always like to tell people it’s like a new vote. Okay. You know, white wines take a certain amount of months to age develop, what do you want to put her to? Oh, six to nine months, maybe a year? Red’s could be nine months, 12 months, year and a half if you want to put it Nope. But fruit wines. This is where my father was genius, from beginning to end just to make it about three months. Okay? Now you’re when you’re talking about you have a mortgage payment every month consistently. Sitting only on a wine for three months is pretty darn good compared to nine months to a year to two years, isn’t it? And so the same concept in terms of how long it lasts, January your fruit line, year and a half to two years. Tops, but it’s meant to be consumed young.

Bianca Harmon  22:25  

I just was curious.

Drew Hendricks  22:27  

Although I did have a dry a local person over here, I’m hungry Hawk vineyards over in Temecula. They did a dry blueberry wine. Beer that he said he never do it again. Yes, we keep asking because it was like a fine Pinot Noir. And I actually I bought a case of it and I drank it over four years and it actually kept getting better.

Jerry Amabile  22:48  

Not put shits Creek the shame because I made fun of the blueberry which I loved actually, that series. And when they talked about blueberry one is great. And I know and we did a blueberry in oak in French oak. We prefer to actually a Montmorency. Cherry, you know, and that’s the sweet and sour cherry. So yes, you can take it an agent like like a red grape, and it literally will blow your mind away. However, it’s a it’s a little bit more difficult of a sell to the consumer. When they come in when they’re thinking blueberry, they want to taste blueberry, but if you’re eating, then then it’s it’s waiting, I don’t taste the blueberry, they probably will a little bit. So we like to kind of keep it mostly lightly sweet. However, I know our winemakers considering doing a couple of things just to throw 50 gallons and have a limited release of something. So that yes, you can play with all those things because it’s available. And when you’re small you you have the ability to pivot rather quickly. When people say Oh, I would love a blueberry wine. In oak. Oh my god. Yeah. And I’m sure it was great. But it’s, you know, it’s it’s something to consider as you as you constantly are rolling out new wines.

Drew Hendricks  24:04  

Yeah. As you’re as you’re pushing the envelope and trying all these different combinations. Is there anything you it? Was there any mistakes like, yeah, we’re not doing that again.

Jerry Amabile  24:15  

I can remember my dad made banana wine before we opened up. And I would I would say this to people would ask, Hey, let’s have a raise of hands. Especially if I have a crowd in front of me. Has anybody ever tasted banana wine? No. I said, Well, my dad made it and it was God awful. And no, we’ll never make a banana wine?

Bianca Harmon  24:32  

That’s a shame. I love banana.

Jerry Amabile  24:34  

I do. So you know, it’s always it’s always you know, trial and error. You got to you got to see what you think you might like, could it be good? And then you and then you go down that road and you see what works and what doesn’t but I remember and dad made that banana wine. This was for our Pennsylvania winery back in 1978. So before they opened, he wanted to say this could be something interesting. And he tried it. And it didn’t work. And I remember but it’s a great story because hey, if you don’t try something you will never know. And it’s not only on the winemaking end of it, Drew and Bianca but it’s also on the consumer and if you don’t try, what there’s, there’s more to it than just our Cabernets in our, in our silver new envelopes. There’s so much more out there. Let’s let’s give it a shot. Right.

Bianca Harmon  25:27  

I have my grandfather, actually. So you know, I grew up I grew up in St. Alena well, not saying I was born in Napa, but my grandfather, he was, you know, he was the stickler for red wines, red wine. And I can remember, my mom works at a winery, and they were having like a big dinner, you know, and they were pouring a dessert wine with the dessert. And he said to my mom, he was in she’s like, working and he’s like, I’m not drinking this. And he’s like, he’s like, just try it, Jack. Like, just, like, come on. It’s just. And so it was like with something and it was like a late harvest, you know, and he took a sip and was like, Holy crap. I don’t think I can ever eat a dessert now, without having this wine. You know, he’s like, I think actually, I might just drink this for dessert instead of eating dessert. Yes. And she’s like, see? Not gonna know until you try it.

Jerry Amabile  26:24  

Exactly. Well, it’s funny that you mentioned that because my CEO, and he’s my business partner. In a previous business, we had a nutritional snack company, and we went and visited our producer of strawberries in Chile. And this was a fifth fifth generation strawberry farm. So at that time, I wasn’t working at the winery. My sister was running it at the time, so but we brought a bottle of strawberry wine from him, for him from New Jersey from our winery. He had never had a wine ever, from strawberries. He had strawberries in a wine liquor with strawberries in the bottle forever. And he he cried. I’ve never, I can’t believe you can do this. And it’s like, wow, I’ve been around for hundreds of years. But nobody ever thought of making that into why it was. It was such an epiphany. And it was a great experience to see. But you like your dad if he didn’t taste it? And then all of a sudden, the light bulb goes on and go. Yes. Yeah. Because I’d rather not eat it. I’d rather have it in a glass. Yeah. Yeah. Brilliant. Brilliant. Yeah. Yeah.

Bianca Harmon  27:36  

So is the process of making the juice, you know, with, you know, with grapes, you’re bringing in grapes, you’re crushing them, you’re the stamina. I mean, so when you’re getting yours, it’s already been pressed, it’s already fresh juice, you’re not having to do anything to it. And

Jerry Amabile  27:51  

it was with some varieties, you know, not not for say, like Niagara, which is a base for a lot of like our sangrias and whatnot, are growers that we that we’ve been buying for actually over 40 years, because it’s from our winery in Pennsylvania, they were just growers, so they weren’t even crushing or pressing them, they would sell us the grapes. But over the last 50 years, they they’ve evolved, and now they’re crushing, pressing, turning it into juice, and then they can hold it for us. So just think back harvest time was September, October, and all all your money. And all your work is done in that time. And plus, it’s your busiest time of the year at that time. Now we can space it out throughout the entire year, so that we can budget know how much how many gallons that we’re going to need for the year and say, Alright, we’ll take 1000 gallons this time. 1000 gallons. Next, we can convert it into into wine, and it’s in juice form. Oh my goodness. Now our Cabernet francs or Chardonnay? No, we get them from growers in New Jersey. Now there’s 60 wineries in New Jersey, we were the seventh. We didn’t buy any grapes in New Jersey, when we opened up we had to buy from Pennsylvania. So it’s really evolved over the past 34 years. So some come in juice form, especially like our tropical fruits come in juice for them come in grapes. So it all varies, but it makes the workload a lot more efficient. So that we can really plan it accordingly. Yeah.

Drew Hendricks  29:23  

Yeah, so because the juice units set to the unit set to this specific harvest time, you can actually write a rolling cycle of, of creativity really, and constantly keep it going.

Bianca Harmon  29:36  

Well, cuz strawberries are in season at certain times and blueberry season at certain times and instead of start to finish all right, here we go.

Jerry Amabile  29:46  

And here we go. And here we go. Correct. Yeah, it does. You know it. You know, we look at it now. And we’re so fortunate that things and thank God for the one thing that’s constant is change, and change in that regard. especially for, for small wineries like us, we love that concept. And we pivoted because we saw the opportunities. And it makes it easier for everyone, especially as a company like us. We’re a lifestyle company. And we don’t want to be working until midnight, because all this stuff guys doesn’t happen overnight. We gotta, we gotta, we gotta rest. We got to enjoy our work, not endure our work. And with that in mind, you know, we just gotta, you know, take it and enjoy it. Enjoy each step along the way. And if we can space it out throughout the year, God bless us. That’s great.

Drew Hendricks  30:38  

Oh, yeah. Yeah, mentioned that. I couldn’t last I saw in the last I saw my research, there was about 50. So there’s wineries in New Jersey. It’s up to 60. Now that’s

Jerry Amabile  30:46  

yeah, there’s there’s 10 more in the pipeline coming coming through. So yeah, it is. It is happening. And you know, what’s what’s great about that? I tell you, there’s a huge winery, seven miles from us called Laurita winery. They’re just a wonderful winery. They they have food, truck wars, it brings 2030 food trucks. When they were about to open up a couple years before they opened, they met my dad. And they asked him hey, would it would you mind us opening up a winery near you? He goes, can you open up next door to us? And the reason is, the more people can drink wine, the more people will come. And it’s we never look ever, ever look at another wineries competition. And I don’t care how close they are. I don’t care if they’re it’s not just on the shelf at a liquor store or a wine shop. It is wine consumption in America is good, but isn’t fantastic. And the more the better and to have a different experience at Laurita winery than ours. And there’s another beautiful little winery co working dog winery they do mostly estate bottled it is all different experiences all within literally a 10 minute drive. So you can hit three different wineries, three different completely different experiences. And you’re going to have an enjoyable time and each one of them. So that to me is it’s it’s like the water is warm in the pool. Everybody jump in.

Drew Hendricks  32:08  

Yeah. And that rising tide floats all boats because

Jerry Amabile  32:12  

you are not kidding. When I hear when I hear people say oh, and a competition I go I never looked at that in any company that I serve. Never look at it as competition. This is a big, big arena. Let’s enjoy each other embrace each other learn from each other. And and we can really have a great time along the way. Yeah,

Drew Hendricks  32:33  

yeah. With the so now a 60 There’s probably in if you could, if you could guess or if you could to help the final with 60 wineries, is New Jersey starting to develop its own kind of regional style or is a regional character. Yeah,

Jerry Amabile  32:47  

you know, first off, it’s, we’re in New Jersey. Okay, so New Jersey has a negative negative effect on people just because they think New Jersey. People outside of New Jersey, think Oh, New Jersey, they’re thinking they’re flying into Newark. Okay. And that’s what they see. But you just go 30 minutes north, and you got an absolutely gorgeous area you get out of the cities. And it’s it’s just spectacular. And there’s so we’re the Garden State for a reason. We we are developing and we’re getting a better name out there. And there’s some phenomenal wineries and some winemakers out there that are literally they are there. They’ll be well known that they’re doing such great things and growing, then you just step back and in awe of what they’re doing. So New Jersey, yes, we are coming along, we just have the name New Jersey, that kind of puts a negative connotation in it just because that’s the way it is. You know, it’s but the marketing of people past and present that are doing a great job for the state of New Jersey. Yeah, I think we’ll overcome that. Just probably. It’s probably was that way say for people in in northern Italy? You know, maybe they thought oh, the Oh, the wines from northern Italy? Oh, no, it just couldn’t be that good. Or from from from Parma area. What Why would I ever want a drink that it’s too sweet? No. Maybe they thought of that way back when that oh, they but we’re at such a young country and our our areas of the country that are growing that I think wine snobbery in general for no matter where it comes from, whether it’s New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, Oregon, California. It ultimately hundreds, three years from now, it won’t matter. They’ll go Oh, I love this wine from New Jersey. I love this one from Texas. It won’t matter anymore of where you are. Won’t that be nice?

Drew Hendricks  34:51  

Fantastic. Yeah. What would you say like 100 years from now? And New Jersey is flourishing. There’s 700 wineries in there. Where do you think the Uh, is there going to be like a variety that kind of dominates the region that you think’s gonna win out or is it will just be a case of diversity? You know,

Jerry Amabile  35:07  

and I’m seeing a lot of that’s a great question. I’m seeing a lot of Cabernet Franc, then growing and I buy our Cabernet Franc from a small vineyard and they’re a small winery in New Jersey. I’m seeing it as the trendy wine that probably and every New Jersey wines that I’ve tasted of their Cabernet Franc, I love them all. They’re all great. So could it be that I’m gonna go with that I love Cabernet Franc. It’s just an amazing wine. And I don’t, you don’t see it much on the shelf yet. But it’s been around before Cabernet Sauvignon. But for some reason, winemakers just used it as a blend. And it could stand on its own just like, I don’t know, let’s just say Destiny’s Child. Great. music band. But Beyonce. She’s got chops. And same thing with Cabernet Franc. It was great blending break. But, you know,

Drew Hendricks  36:02  

we drink a lot. A lot of it. Yeah. My wife’s favorite regions she known and they Cabernet francs in the lower right. I mean, on the latitude in New Jersey kind of has that same sort of one little bit on that. That bottom?

Jerry Amabile  36:18  

Right. Yep. You’re right about that. And you’ll, I think I think what you’ll see is that, in my opinion, one thing, what do I know? I’m in my 60s, I think who knows?

Drew Hendricks  36:30  

prognosticate? prognosticated here? We’ll have to check back in 20 years. That’s great. Yeah. Man. So Jerry got it. You tell the story at the pre show about your, your exercise routine in the in the tropical storm being the perfect drink?

Jerry Amabile  36:50  

Yeah, it’s a perfect drink. Yeah. So actually, our winemaker when he first made passion fruit, I just came back from a 10 mile run. And I had never even had passion fruit as a fruit. And he said, Tell me what you think. And I drank it, I went, this is the best recovery wine ever drank in my entire life. And, and then he decides to blend it with mango, as a separate wine and, and, and have it sparkling. And went, Oh my god. So I’ve got a couple running buddies here in Pennsylvania that I run on Sundays after church. And that is what we have is a bottle of Tropical Storm. It’s got it’s got its electrolytes. It’s got its natural sweetness. And, and you feel great after a long run. And we’re like looking at each other like, Man, this is a great day. So yeah, I mean, why not? I mean, like, why can’t you have wine as the recovery? Why can’t you have wine in the morning, you were mentioning breccia that, you know, that’s a lower alcohol wine. If you’re going to have a wine in the morning, that’s probably what I would recommend. I wouldn’t recommend drinking in the morning. It’s the productive productivity levels. Not so good. But yeah, there are wines for every single occasion every part of the day.

Drew Hendricks  38:06  

Yeah. Especially the lower alcohol and that’s a huge growing category.

Jerry Amabile  38:10  

Unbelievable amount.

Bianca Harmon  38:13  

ulcers are such a hit there. You know, four and a half, five,

Jerry Amabile  38:17  

alcohol. Yeah, it’s manageable. It’s manageable for people and and that’s it’s quite good. In fact, we make that Sparklin Pacheco, it’s called Fergie and my late father in law, He was a retired farmer. And he gave us our tractor, which is called the Massey Ferguson tractor. And that sits out in the front of our winery as a memorial to him. And he was sweet and bubbly. And this is sweet and bubbly. Well, our project, we couldn’t get enough one year. So we’re like, oh my god, we have everybody hooked on this. So we made a 32.0. And that was with our for dunya grapes. So there was it’s not the same, but it was close enough for people to go up and go 2.0 So it’s not 5.5 it’s 11% Alcohol volume. It’s a whole new game. And so you can adapt, you can pivot. But those grapes, they were that not similar, but enough that they can get along and can’t and everybody should be able to get along and even those grapes for the palate and people who love that person get the grape. It was enough of a bridge to get them there. Yeah,

Drew Hendricks  39:23  

that was the timing I believe is finally right now for these low alcohol. I was talking to Michael and Bonnie Hoolahan. Of barefoot cellars is they’re growing their brand before they sold it. They did come out with a low alcohol wine brands one of their biggest flops ever. Because at the time, the wine consumers just thought they cut it with water and they were only getting half, half as much of wine as they should be getting.

Jerry Amabile  39:49  

Yeah, that had to be years ago. That’s when I would guess consumers would be thinking that way. That’s great. Now I’ll be sharing that story but By the way, that’s a great one.

Drew Hendricks  40:01  

Yeah, I asked them what kind of one of their biggest, like, what they would not do again? Wasn’t right then. But I think it’s right now. And I think it’s right with the product offering you guys are doing that. Yeah,

Jerry Amabile  40:11  

that and plus you got to have a story behind it. And if you have a story behind every kind of wine, the consumer, if if it’s a believable story, and it’s got to be authentic, they’re going to embrace it. And, you know, I’m a believer, slow and steady wins the race. My daughter always I always told that to my daughter who hates running. And when she was growing up, and I said Slow and steady wins the race rightly and she said, Daddy, you never win the race. Now, I never win race now. But in your in life’s terms, you know, slow and steady, we can win everybody over it with consumption of wine, whether it’s low alcohol, made from fruits made from fruits that are aged in Oh, it’s, you can do it. It’s just you got to have the right approach and be authentic and be honest. It’s a beautiful thing, guys. It’s a beautiful thing to watch unfold right before our very eyes. It’s a wonderful time in this industry. I can tell you that.

Drew Hendricks  41:06  

Absolutely. Absolutely. Jerry, as we’re kind of winding down, is there anything we haven’t talked about that you’d like to bring up?

Jerry Amabile  41:14  

Let’s see anything that you I’d like to talk about? Well, you know, what I think most important thinking thing is, especially for wine connoisseurs. And, and people that want to learn more, have an open mind. Just like you have an open mind for food. Okay. My father always taught me that wine is food. So why should we be critical of somebody who likes Indian food? Or doesn’t like Thai food? Or doesn’t like Italian food? Well, everybody likes tag, because we can’t compare that. But why should we be critical of somebody who likes a sweet wine versus a dry wine, we should be open minded because we’re all in this together. And I think quite honestly, the wine industry is changing. Instead of having that, that kind of narrow mindedness, it is changing eventually. And I think we’re we’re one of the pioneers to make that happen. Because you know, we all have a different taste and walk in life. And what we like when we’re younger, we may not like when we’re older, but then all of a sudden, you can still drink that because Wine. Wine is just that memory link that keeps us all together, it binds us. It is that it’s a glorious thing. So yes. If you were to ask me that, I would say, you know, have an open mind, just like with food with relationships, and enter a walk. We’ll all be we’ll all be better off for it.

Drew Hendricks  42:45  

That’s a very, very good words of wisdom there.

Jerry Amabile  42:49  

Well, thank you. They’re true. I appreciate it. I love you guys.

Drew Hendricks  42:53  

Where can people find out more about you? And

Jerry Amabile  42:57  

yeah, you can. You can look at us on our website at We have a Facebook page, as well as Instagram. I heard that’s a very popular social media platform. And it’s it’s always a joy to have people come in to our place and learn a little bit about us. We’re small, we’re boutique. We make it fun. And if you’re not having fun with them, what are we doing right?

Drew Hendricks  43:24  

That’s true. Thank you so much. Sure.

Jerry Amabile  43:29  

Hey, well, listen, it was great seeing you guys face to face. God bless you both. And have a great day. Right? You too. All right. Thanks, guys.

Outro  43:37  

Thanks for listening to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.