Friday, November 6, 2009
Beautiful Amalthea Cellars Winery
Through the good graces of the South Jersey Tourism Corporation we recently visited the beautiful Almathea Cellars in nearby Atco, New Jersey (about midway between Philadelphia and Atlantic City).
We had a wonderful time and learned so much about wine, wine making and the wine industry in the Garden State.
Our teacher and guide was Almathea Cellars founder Louis Caracciolo. Lou is a man with a passion for wine and wine making. What small batch beer is to brewing, Almathea Cellars is to wine making. The wine makers here are artisans.
Louis Caracciolo’s infatuation with wine making began as a young boy making wine in the cellar of his Italian immigrant grandfather, Emilio. In the early 1900s, at the age of 13, Emilio brought the art from the Old Country to the southern New Jersey town of Blue Anchor. Caracciolo often says of his philosophical grandfather, “I came on the scene with an unlit torch and my grandfather passed the flame.”
While attending Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York for his degree in Food Science and Technology far from Emilio’s “Old World techniques” Lou began to work on his style in small batches of wine in his dormitory room! He used his never ending respect for archaic winemaking techniques to study modern enology still unaware that Amalthea would be in his future.
In 1972, he bought the farm where Amalthea is located and the rest as they say is history.
Here's how Lou explains his approach:
At Amalthea, we embrace the philosophy that "wine is grown in the fields." To ask a farmer/winery to severely reduce crops to intensify fruit is to ask a lot but that is how superior wines are made. The finest wineries in the world insist this practice is the secret to their greatest wines.
Being "le vigneron" (wine growers), we at Amalthea know that the wines are grown in the fields, not made in the cellars. In the cellar the winemaker is only the custodian of the natural process from vine to bottle.
Blending, one third of the art, is something under the winemaker's artistic control. In France the blending of between two and six different grapes has evolved the finest wines in the world. Our intention is not to mimic the wines of Bordeaux. We are selecting the finest grapes from Southern Jersey and blending them in proportions dictated by the three century-old, time-honored techniques of Bordeaux. Now our customers can judge which blend showcases our local regional grapes in the best possible light.
Almathea Cellars can be found at 209 Vineyard Rd. just off the White Horse Pike (Route 30) in Atco, NJ. Call 856- 767-8890 for more information or visit amaltheacellars.com.
For more information on the wineries of New Jersey and the growing wine industry in the Garden State click here.