Wine and Ale Trail features flavors from family-owned businesses in South Jersey

HAMMONTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- The blueberry capital of the world shares soil with several grape-growing families. In fact, one of them has been selling wine for as long as it's been legal in the United States.

Tomasello Winery is now thriving on a four-generation long legacy in Hammonton.

"It was started in 1933 by my grandfather right after prohibition," said Jack Tomasello. "The story goes that he drove an old pickup truck down to Washington D.C. and he got the 68th bonded winery license."

Jack keeps the family business growing alongside his brother, Charlie. The third-generation siblings have the pleasure of working alongside both of their sons, Sean and Brian, respectively.

"Hammonton is a beautiful, rural town. We have soil conditions conducive to growing really nice wine grapes," said Charlie. "That's a big deal and that's why you get clusters of wineries."

Like grapes on a vine, wineries and breweries seemed to have bunched together in Hammonton, a town that splits the difference between Philadelphia and Atlantic City.

"We're not competitors," Jack noted. "We're providing New Jersey wine as New Jersey wine and we're doing it collectively."

That collaborative spirit sparked the idea for the Wine and Ale Trail of South Jersey. Within a 13-mile radius, it features wineries, breweries, and a new distillery.

The list includes Autumn Lake Winery, Bellview Winery, Blue Rascal Distillery, Chimney Rustic Ales, Coda Rossa, DiMatteo's Vineyard and Winery, Plagido's Winery, Sharrot Winery, Three 3's Brewing Company, Tomasello Winery, Vinyl Brewing Company, and White Horse Winery.

Thirsty customers can swipe a tasting passport and collect stamps at all 12 locations. During the month of June, those who rack up at least six stamps can hand in or mail their passport to receive a free Wine and Ale Trail t-shirt.

"It's just a fun way to support each other, cross promote, and so, everybody's sharing information together," said Candice Boblett, manager and winemaker at Plagido's Winery.

Jack Tomasello hopes that the constant support will continue growing their brand and branching out beyond what his grandfather ever imagined.

"There are wineries in Italy that are 10 generations old. And that could be possible now here in our country," he said. "So, hopefully that's the goal with family wineries, family businesses."

This Father's Day weekend, customers can enjoy the normal schedule featuring wine tastings, cheese and charcuterie plates, and live music at many of these outlets. To learn more about specific schedules and how to make a reservation, visit their appropriate websites.

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