The palatial tasting room/winery building.

An old barrel truck marks the entrance to the winery.

Laurita Winery Profile

     Written by Brian Jul 8, 2018

This was my first “official” New Jersey winery visit and it was just dumb luck that I discovered a real gem. 

Ray Shea and Randy Johnson started planting grapes in 1998 with an eye toward producing wine. The winery initiative was just one of many on the Ocean County property. Just a half-mile up the road, Shea and Johnson also opened an inn and equestrian center.

 Laurita Winery opened for business selling wine out of a temporary structure in 2005. A permanent and palatial tasting room, constructed of material reclaimed from a pair of historic English-style barns, opened three years later. I am told that the 40 acres of estate fruit produces about 10,000 cases of wine annually and all of that is sold out of that space or through their wine club. 

Owner(s): Randy Johnson and Ray Shea

Winemaker: Nicholas Opdam

Artwork adorns the Laurita labels.

Open to Public 

Wed 4 to 9; Thu 12 to 9; Fri 12 to 11; Sat 12 to 5; Sun 12 to 7

The tasting room offers space to relax or explore.

That may seem like of lot of wine to sell direct to consumer, but Laurita has an aggressive event schedule. There are 32 weddings scheduled for 2018, but the calendar is packed with weekly (and almost daily) public events. Just a few of these include food trucks and fireworks most weekends, movie nights in the vineyard, dance nights, Monday mystery dinners, Wednesday grill nights and yoga on the lawn. 

With Philadelphia and New York just a short drive away, there is a very large urban audience drawn to the Laurita property. Events are certainly an attraction, but quality wine provides enough reason to visit.

During my visit, I tasted several of the Laurita wines. There were total of 15 on the menu, but I sampled only dry offerings. All of them were well crafted and worthy of note.

85 Archertown Rd, New Egypt, NJ 08533

phone: (609) 752-0200

email: See website

I started with a pair of Chardonnays—one oaked and one unoaked. They were both perfectly balanced whites. The lightly oaked reserve Chard was a standout with its vanilla and apple notes ending in enough acidity to pair well with food. Oh, but the Cabernet Franc was just over the top with its berry notes mingling with structured tannins and a touch of spice. 

The biggest surprise of the tasting was the Norton. Laurita is likely the only New Jersey winery producing wines from this grape. Their tasting sheet describes it as Zinfandel-like, which is a fairly accurate description. The wine has all of the fruitiness of a Zinfandel without any of the off-putting stringency that can be present in Norton. It is an excellent example of a Norton wine.

When viewed in the aggregate, Laurita appears to be the whole package. A combination of venue, events and quality wine make this a must-visit winery. It is easily accessible from some of the east coast’s largest urban centers and offers an opportunity to escape to a beautiful rural location that seems far removed from the city. I strongly recommend stopping in and after you do, please let me know what you think.

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