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Peppadew to be the focus of new vineyard and winery

MORGANVILLE, NJ — Approximately 40 miles south of New York City, in this pastoral town within the boundaries of Marlboro Township in New Jersey’s Monmouth County, a new vineyard and winery is set to open this fall, complete with all the trappings found at locations in more famous wine-producing regions around world: wine grapes grown on acres of rich farmland; a tasting room where visitors can sample wines produced on site; and a demo kitchen where food to complement the wines will be artfully prepared by top chefs.

Pierre Crawley and his wife, Doris, in the kitchen at Peppadew Fresh Vineyards & Winery in Morganville, NJ. Mr. Crawley plans to use the facility for meetings with existing and potential retail and foodservice clients, where the unique properties of the piquante pepper can be highlighted. (Photos by John Groh)
However, this vineyard will have something to which no other winery in the United States can lay claim: Peppadew.

Until now, Peppadew, a unique piquante fruit discovered 15 years ago in South Africa, was grown exclusively in that country and available only pickled in jars and cans. At Peppadew Fresh Vineyard & Winery, a one-acre test plot of Peppadew Gold was about halfway through its 90-day growing cycle in mid-August and will serve as the vineyard’s raison d’etre.

Pierre Crawley, who handles sales and marketing of Peppadew through its North American sales agent, Strohmeyer & Arpe, based in Basking Ridge, NJ, purchased the 15-acre flower farm three years ago with the vision of transforming it into a destination for all things Peppadew.

“When we were looking at properties, we wanted something that was reminiscent of the original farm in South Africa where Peppadew was first discovered,” Mr. Crawley told The Produce News.

The property here contains a farmhouse and barn that date back to the 1860s, along with greenhouses where the former owner produced flowers. The main house has undergone extensive upgrades, such as the installation of a state-of-the-art kitchen and renovations to include a small banquet room. The barn has been transformed and will serve as the wine-making area and tasting room.

At 15 acres, Peppadew Fresh Vineyard & Winery is small in comparison to wineries in California, New York and other regions. But large-scale production was never the goal of this project in the first place. Rather, Peppadew Fresh Vineyards & Winery looks to expand the awareness and usage of Peppadew.

Because of its relatively short growing cycle — 90 days compared to 180 for the better-known red variety — New Jersey is a suitable place for growing Peppadew Gold. And more important, the location of the facility puts it within close proximity to the most densely populated region in the country.

Mr. Crawley said that he plans to hold meetings with retail and foodservice buyers at Peppadew Fresh Vineyard & Winery, and he envisions it as a site for corporate events and private parties.