Wine Festival Season Arrives with “Blues, Wine & BBQ Festival” at Schooley’s Mountain Park

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The Garden State Wine Growers Association unveils a new theme and new experiences to enhance the first major New Jersey wine festival of 2015.

The Blues, Wine & BBQ Festival, Long Valley, NJ

The new theme and new location for the GSWGA represents efforts to reinvigorate wine festivals throughout New Jersey, and promises to bring a better festival than ever before.

Twenty of New Jersey’s premier wine producers will come together Memorial Day weekend for the Garden State Wine Growers Association’s newly unveiled “Blues, Wine & BBQ Festival,” to be held at idyllic Schooley’s Mountain Park in western Morris County. The new theme and new location for the GSWGA represents efforts to reinvigorate wine festivals throughout New Jersey, and promises to bring a better festival than ever before. The event will feature hundreds of locally produced wines, rockin’ blues bands, succulent BBQ from authentic pit masters, kids’ activities, and plenty of family fun over Memorial Day Weekend.

The two-day event highlights some of New Jersey’s finest wineries, which have tripled in number across the state in the last ten years. Festival attendees will have the opportunity to taste hundreds of wines made from New Jersey grown grapes, meet the winemaking teams, and enjoy the latest vintages and releases. New Jersey wines continue to be regularly recognized as high quality in national and international wine competitions, most recently garnering several medals at the TEXSOM and Finger Lakes International wine contests.

The Blues, Wine & BBQ festival is the latest iteration of the GSWGA’s Memorial Day weekend wine festival. In the past this event has drawn several thousands of happy attendees. “The wine is fantastic, the music is great, and you can’t beat the beautiful new setting” said John Cifelli, Association Executive Director. “You can’t not have an incredible time. There’s an infectious, fun atmosphere about the whole day, and we’re excited to share the new aspects and features this year.”

A VIP ticket will gain attendees entry into a special tented area with spacious seating and a catered lunch buffet. Only 100 VIP tickets will be sold for each day, and the Association expects to sell out the enhanced experience.

On Saturday, Slim Chance and the Gamblers will roll the dice on the music stage. They will be followed on Sunday by New Jersey Blues band The Fins. Besides the Blues rock, there are a couple of other events on the stage that set this festival apart from the other four produced by the GSWGA. Guests will have the chance to cheer on their favorite winery as the winners of the New Jersey Wine are announced at 1:30pm at the music tent. The contest, organized annually by Dr. Gary Pavlis of Rutgers University, has been awarding three “Governor’s Cup” trophies for almost thirty years. In addition to the Winery of the Year award, Cups are given in the best overall, best dessert, and best fruit wine categories. Judges this year include sommeliers, fine wine distributors, boutique liquor store owners, and restaurateurs from across the state. Over 300 wines were entered in hopes of earning the coveted trophies.

At 4:00pm on Sunday, one lucky person will win an international wine trip! The GSWGA operates a passport program, with all association members included in the book. Those who travel the entire New Jersey wine trail and collect stamps from the wineries are entered into an annual drawing for the vacation. This year the winner will book their real passport to Spain for a wine & food excursion from Madrid to the Spanish old country. The GSWGA also has created an app version of the passport program, which includes maps of NJ wine country, a calendar of events, and the ability to collect stamps by checking in to NJ winery tasting rooms.

Tickets to the event are $25 at the gate, but advanced reduced rate and group rate ticket sales are online now. Ticket information, a festival guide, and the full list of winery participants can be found visit

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John Cifelli
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