Common Fruits of New Jersey Create Specialty Wines

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What do apples, pumpkins, blueberries and strawberries have in common? Other than all being fruits, they are the ingredients for some specialty wines at Four Sisters Winery in Belvidere, New Jersey. More than 25 years ago Robert (Matty) Matarazzo and his wife Laurie started a winery out in the countryside of Warren County, New Jersey.

Farming has been the family occupation for 89 years. The tradition started four generations ago in North Caldwell with Constantino and Filomena Matarazzo. That farm still thrives today, where much of the land around them is developed. Young Matty moved to Belvidere in 1974 where the second Matarazzo Farms was established. Over the years the farm has grown to encompass 250 acres. In 1981 the first grapes were planted and the first wines were released in 1984. Matty and Laurie have four daughters, hence the name Four Sisters Winery. As a farmer of all types of fruits and vegetables it was not long before Matty and Laurie began to use other fruits from the farm to create a series of specialty wines. The first specialty wines were of strawberry, apple, raspberry and peach. The wines were produced from fruits grown on the 250 acre farm and each one being named after one of the daughters. The original fruit wines were Peach Melissa, Strawberry Serena, Robin's Raspberry and Sadie's Apple. After about four years of Peach Melissa, it was changed to Cherry Melissa, as cherries were easier to clarify.

Popularity of the wines grew and the winery began to purchase some additional fruit from local farmers. With further demand they began bringing fruit in as a juice that was crushed and pressed by growers in Pennsylvania and New York, with some still coming from New Jersey. Around 1992 Spicy Sister, a semi-sweet, spiced apple wine, was introduced. Matty comment, "Spicy Sisters came when Melissa and Serena where into their teenage years and Robin and Sadie were just starting that phase of their life and so to best describe that phase of their childhood, I created Spicy Sisters to reflect the roller coaster ride of raising four teenage daughters." Having survived those years, Matty and Laurie now enjoy being grandparents and have even created some new wines to celebrate a new generation. Ethan's Pumpkin was created in 2008 to celebrate his first birthday and Mia's Blueberry in 2011, named after their first granddaughter, born May 27, 2010.  For those planning a trip to Four Sisters Winery, make it a day and plan on enjoying the beautiful area. For more things to see and do in Northwest New Jersey, visit www.highlandstourism.org.