The History Of Tamuzza Vineyards

The Early Years

Winemaker Paul Tamuzza in the

tasting room at the old winery

 

1981~The Beginning
Tamuzza Vineyards planted its first vineyard in the spring of 1981.  In those days we were located in Warren County, New Jersey.  In January we placed an order for our grapevines and were shocked to find t hat there were only a few types of vines available.  Our options thus limited, we planted about one acre of a white grape called Aurora, and two acres of a red grape called Foch.  The soil (and I use that term loosely) in Warren County was mostly shale with a bit of dirt mixed in.  I recall we used a small army of college kids to dig or pick the holes for the vineyard.  We discovered during the ensuing years that Aurora was a lot of trouble to grow.  Foch, on the other hand, was very hardy.  The Foch that our fields produced made a dark, fruity wine with hints of cherry. There were many years in the late 1980s when our Foch was pre-sold before it was even placed in the bottle.

 

1982 - 1983
In the spring of 1982 we planted a second vineyard. This vineyard was 13 acres.  We once again hired college students to plant the vines.  In this vineyard we planted Pinot Noir, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc and Vignoles. As I recall we used 4872 posts to build the trellis for the vines. Weeding and putting in the posts took all of 1982 and the spring and early summer of 1983. The total length of  the center alleys of the vineyards was 10.2 miles.  Needless to say, mowing took a lot of time. 

One of two highlight of 1983 was the construction of the winery builing.  I did it myself with a very dear friend of mine named James De Serio. The memory of the many "discussions" we had in the course of this endeavor still, to this day, bring a smile to my face. Jimmy's dad was a carpenter, and the two of them brought a wealth of knowledge about proper construction techniques.  From them I learned that over-building is a good idea, a principle I would remember when I began construction on our new winery in Franklinville. 

The old winery in Hope, NJ

Warren County

The other major event of that year was a visit from my favorite person on this planet-- my grandfather--to inspect my work of the past two and a half years.  I remember that for weeks prior to his visit I weeded and mowed and disked the vineyard. I wanted everything to look perfect. My grandfather, Paul Tamuzza, was at that time well into his 90s but looked 60 and acted and moved like a man of 40.  On the day of his visit I recall our walking up and down the rows of vines. Row after row, he would stop and look carefully at the vines, scrutinizing them with a critical eye.  Finally, when it was time for us to begin our trip home to his house, I remember that he put his arm over my shoulder and, looking me straight in the eye and with a smile on his face, said, "Real farmers have weeds, too."

 

1984
In 1984 we took delivery of 13,500 gallons of stainless steel tanks, the smallest one being 1000 gallons. We also purchased 3 pumps, a plate and frame filter, a 36 inch millipore filter, a bottling line, an automatic labeler, hoses and a host of other things that we would need. In the vineyard, we pulled all the small clusters off the vines to make them grow bigger and stronger.

 

1985
In this year we made our first commercial wines. We produced 11,200 gallons of wine our first year. We also set a small record, which I have yet to break: we processed ( crushed, pressed and pumped the juice or must put into tanks ) 38,000 pounds of grapes in a 23- hour period.                                                                          

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