By: Follow South Jersey Staff
BLACKWOOD, N.J. — Camden County’s Lakeland Vineyard is producing its first crop, at what is expected to become a “teaching vineyard,” where students can gain hands-on experience growing grapes. The county’s vineyard sits on nearly an acre of land and the first crop has produced about 1,100 pounds of grapes, but that number is expected to grow to 7,000 once the vines are mature.
“The local wine industry is growing by leaps and bounds and one of the only things holding production back is the access to grapes,” Camden County Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. said. “This new vineyard will pave the way for more opportunities, allowing our award-winning wineries here in Camden County continue to shine and grow. Furthermore, these wineries have become a destination for thousands of people that support our local economy and are now economic generators for towns.”
VineTech was hired by the county to plant and maintain the vineyard, which is comprised of Chambourcin grapes. This variety of grape is one of the world’s most popular hybrid varieties, and is noted for its distinctive dark coloring and herbaceous aroma. This vineyard supports the rapidly growing wine industry in the state. Once harvested, the grapes will be put out for bid and sold to the highest bidder.
The Camden County Office of Sustainability in partnership with Camden County College will start a Viticulture Certificate Program through the vineyard this spring. A nonprofit is being formed to create and support a scholarship fund for students who enroll in the college’s viticulture program, which will begin as a certificate program, with plans to develop it into a degree program. The college’s viticulture program will be designed to prepare Camden County residents to work in this growing industry through an introduction to viticulture, wine marketing and sales, hospitality, winemaking, wine analysis and the science of growing grapes.
“There is no secret that our wines are competing at a high-level and gaining a national reputation,” Cappelli explained. “Just last week two of our four wineries finished as winners in the Governor’s Cup, further proving that the wine produced right here in our county is appreciated statewide and throughout the nation.”
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