Tuesday, July 23, 2024

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: A Retired Wildlife Biologist’s Dream Created Brook Hollow Winery in Columbia – a Fun Place Taking Wine to New Heights

Brook Hollow’s Merlot milkshake. Photo supplied by Brook Hollow Winery.

Opening their doors in 2013 as a weekend hobby, Brook Hollow Winery is located at 594 Route 94, Columbia and the family-run operation has now expanded into a full-fledged premier winetasting and distribution center. It features two large and rustic event facilities that are surrounded by the vineyard of nearly 10,000 grapes.

It’s a friendly place, and their educated sommeliers make stopping in for winetastings quite fun. There is always live music on Friday nights plus Saturday and Sunday afternoons. A specialty of theirs are the wine slushies offering a popular, refreshing wine experience. 

There’s always something going on at Brook Hollow. For instance, a recent weekend featured a Girl Scout cookie wine pairing featuring five Girl Scout cookies, five wines and three milkshakes. Yes, you can make a milkshake with chocolate mint cookies and Merlot wine.

They are having a St. Patrick’s Day dinner complete with live music and featuring a minty Merlot milkshake. They are having a murder mystery dinner, an adult easter egg hunt and a Mother’s Day arts and crafts show. A very popular event is country line dancing, held every second and fourth Thursday night. Weather permitting, many events are held outdoors.

Paul Ritter started making wine at his Knowlton home many years ago. He transformed his front lawn into a mini vineyard with 1,000 grapes. In 2006, the Ritter family opened a small weekend winery at Brook Hollow Farm, nearer to Hainesburg, owned by their friend Dave Flitcroft. In short order, their winery following outgrew the small tasting room at the farm. 

Ritter’s hobby became his passion and just before retiring as a wildlife biologist, he and his family expanded their part-time weekend winery into this full-time business with the purchase of large, preserved farmland closer to Route 80.

Brook Hollow wine. Photo supplied by Brook Hollow Winery, Columbia, New Jersey.
Oak grinds and chunks get added to the stainless steel wine tanks as part of the fermenting process. Photo by MB Journe, 03/2024.

Brook Hollow’s wine is made entirely from New Jersey fruit with much of it grown on their farm. They have two processing centers where 3,000 bottles of wine are made in each tank. The wine ferments in the tank for two and a half years.

Every weekend in September and October, the grapes are picked by volunteers in preparation for the next batches of wine.  

Wine is sold in the building near the road where wine education and tastings also take place. Brook Hollow has a winery sales outlet license which allows their wine to be sold in some restaurants. They can be enjoyed at Fig & Lilly Garden in Morristown and iL Porto in Lake Mohawk, just to mention two.  

Brook Hollow Winery has an event centering operation that’s managed by daughter Jessica Ritter. The rustic center is complete with a large oak gazebo, the perfect spot for exchanging wedding vows. This is a grand space for weddings, private parties or corporate events.

Check out their website, www.brookhollowwinery.com, for a calendar of events and information on their winemaking classes, wine club or venue rental.

Yelens Choban
MB Journe, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

MB has been a resident of Frelinghuysen for the past 22 years. She lives in an old farmhouse on the side of the road. She enjoys the simple life, puttering in her flower garden, practicing Qi Gong under her redbud tree, or creating art on the deck.
MB's experience as a journalist began when her son was quite young, she began writing for The Paulinskill Valley Chronicle, often bringing him to work with her. Her responsibilities were writing articles with photos, selling ads, and billing. This suited her, as a single mother not wanting to be separated from her small child.

She considers herself a lover of nature, often seen photographing its beauty. She has worked as a seasonal employee of YMCA Camp Mason for the past 17 years. She is a teacher and mentor of children, always emphasizing the YMCA’s core values - caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. She tries to listen carefully to each individual she interviews, getting their viewpoint. That is why she likes to write about the interesting people and places that make Warren County such a nice place to live.