By Mary Ann Bourbeau |
HOLMDEL – Friday night is a time to relax and put the hectic workweek behind you and Fox Hollow Vineyards offers the perfect respite. The Holmdel Road vineyard, located on 94 acres of farmland, hosts live music every Friday night from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The acts vary, with everything from country to rock to jazz.
“It’s our second season offering music,” said Joe Casola, 28, whose family has been farming in Holmdel for nearly 200 years. “There’s no cover charge. People can come and listen to the band on the patio overlooking the farm and the vineyards. They can pack a picnic, enjoy a glass of wine and have a nice, relaxing and peaceful evening away from the hustle and bustle.”
Some of the acts performing this summer are Squarehead, Sherri Pie Band, Alex English, Castles in the Sky and the Constant Duo.
“A few people reached out to us and suggested we have music here,” said Casola, who lives in Allentown with his partner, Kevin. “A lot of the performers have been customers here.”
Though children are not allowed – there’s a 21 and over policy – the Friday night music events are pet friendly. And there to greet customers will be Frederick, Casola’s 11⁄2-year-old Berger Blanc Suisse, or as Casola describes him, “a white German shepherd.”
“Frederick is very popular here,” he said. “He comes to work with me everyday. He’s probably more well-known than the winery.”
Casola and his four siblings grew up on the Fox Hollow property with their parents, Kim and Tony, owners of A. Casola Farms, a nursery and garden center known for its fall events and Christmas tree selection. They all work in different areas on the farms. Although he enjoyed growing up with horses, goats and sheep, and having a dinner menu fresh from the garden, Casola wanted to forge his own path.
“I was looking to branch out of the family business,” he said. So in 2010, the family decided to diversify. They were going to grow grapes and open a winery. Casola earned a degree in viticulture and enology from Surry Community College in Dobson, North Carolina. He spent two years not only in classrooms, but also in laboratories and field operations in the Yadkin Valley, North Carolina and worked in several vineyards in that region.
In 2013, Fox Hollow produced its first two wines – a Field Master Blend Red Reserve and a dessert wine called Autumn Harvest. The following year, the vineyards were mature enough to begin large-scale production.
“New Jersey is a great place for a vineyard because it has a long growing season and great soil,” Casola said.
Fox Hollow now has 15 different wines, including white, semi-sweet white, rosé, red, semi-sweet red and a reserve red.
“Each has a unique profile, with different fermentation and aging,” he said.
The Garden State Wine Growers Association awarded Fox Hollow the Governor’s Cup for Best Grape Wine and Best Vinifera wine for their 2014 Cabernet Franc. To introduce their latest rosé wine, Fox Hollow is hosting a Roaring Rosé Soirée Saturday, June 23. Guests are invited to take a step back into the 1920s and celebrate flapper style.
“Rosé is a nice alternative to white wine,” said Casola. “It comes from a red grape, so it has a little more character. Rosé used to be a sweet pink wine, but now there’s so much more to it. It’s a nice summer wine.”
The soirée includes food, live music, wine tastings, a commemorative bottle of wine and prizes for best-dressed and best dancers.
“I love that time period, the clothing and the glamour,” said Casola. “I thought it would be a fun way to introduce the wines. Plus the roses on our property are in bloom, which ties in with the rosé color.”
Fox Hollow Vineyards hosts various events throughout the year, including annual Christmas and Valentine’s Day parties, wine and chocolate pairings and sunset yoga sessions. Wine tastings are Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with happy hour $5 glasses of wine from 5 to 6 p.m. on Fridays. Cheese platters, paninis and chocolates are available for sale.
“I like producing a product people enjoy and seeing them come together to relax and have a nice time,” he said. “People work so much these days. It’s nice to see them meet friends and family and enjoy a glass of wine. Food and wine bring people together.”
This article was first published in the June7-June 14, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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