A journey along Hunterdon County’s 579 trail is a magical way to enjoy the holiday season. The vineyards, farms and specialty markets are dressed up with fresh evergreens, twinkling lights, and warm hospitality. Along the way, you can take a photo with Santa, snuggle with a goat, cut down a Christmas tree, relax at a vineyard, and shop for holiday gifts.
The 579 Trail (hunterdon579trail.com) is an online guide to more than 50 agricultural and agritourism sites located within a few miles of Hunterdon County’s historic Route 579. The trail is about 25 miles long and meanders roughly North to South from Bloomsbury to East Amwell.
“The 579 Trail provides a unique holiday shopping opportunity,” commented Hunterdon County Commissioner Sue Soloway. “It’s beautiful, it’s local, and it’s a lot of fun. “Plus, it feels good to spend locally and meet the people throughout our community who take pride in the things they produce,” she added.
A Warm Welcome at Hunterdon’s Vineyards
Hunterdon’s vineyards ring in the season with beautifully decorated tasting rooms, and cozy heated outdoor seating. Seasonal wines, live music, artisan vendors, and specialty foods make the vineyards ideal for celebrating, relaxing, and shopping. The rolling fields are a picture perfect backdrop for holiday photos. At Beneduce Vineyards in Pittstown, “we love the holiday season – the fireplace is going in our tasting room, we light the fire pits outside, and the property is decked out with twinkling lights, evergreen garlands, wreaths, and poinsettias,” explained Events Manager Amy Rose. Gifts include custom baskets with estate-grown wines and local artisan goods. Info and reservations: beneducevineyards.com At Old York Cellars in Ringoes, photos with Santa will take place on Saturdays and Sundays in December. “Photos can be made into custom wine labels – giving a bottle of
wine with your Santa photo makes everyone happy,” explained David Wolin, Old York’s owner. Other gifts include boxed wine sets, honey from the vineyard, and Vintner’s Club memberships. Info and reservations: oldyorkcellars.com
Ironbound Farm’s Weekend Cider Garden serves hard ciders and seltzers, specialty drinks, and farm-inspired menu items cooked on an open flame on a 30 foot cooking structure, named “the Motherfire.” Visitors to the Alexandria Township, NJ regenerative farm can select seating at the fire pit, barn, or woodshed, reservations are required. The market offers local produce, meat, cheeses, baked goods, ciders and seltzers. Info and reservations: ironboundfarm.com
Federal Twist Vineyard in Stockton (federaltwistvineyard.com), Mount Salem Vineyards in Pittstown (hmountsalemvineyards.com), and Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes (unionvillevineyards.com).
Cut your own Tree at Peterson Family Farm
At Peterson Family Farm in Flemington, you can select and tag your tree as early as Thanksgiving weekend, and return when you are ready to cut it down. Varieties include: Colorado Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, and Douglas Fir. Inside the corn crib and the big red barn with the white cupola, visitors will find handmade pine roping, table centerpieces, wreaths and ornaments, along with pre-cut trees. Info: petersonfarm.net
“Holidays with the Herd” at WoodsEdge Farm
On December 3 & 4, and 10 & 11 WoodsEdge Farm, home to llamas, alpacas & Tibetan yak, will host “Holidays with the Herd.” The event begins with a wagon ride to the “Event Barn,” illuminated with twinkling lights suspended from the ceiling. “Our farm store will be open and guests will enjoy family photos, artisan pizza, warm cocoa, and fun activities like face painting and ornament making,” explained Amy Serridge, who owns the Stockon, NJ farm with her husband Brent Walker, a third generation farmer. “Our resident llamas & alpacas will be nearby for feeding and photo ops – everyone loves a selfie with the llamas,” she added. WoodsEdge Farm store features socks, gloves, hats, sweaters, yarn and gift items, and is open Friday through Sunday. Info and event tickets: woodsedge.com
“Christmas on the Farm” at the Bubbly Goat Farm in Stockton invites guests for a “goat-getaway” on the seasonally decorated farm including the opportunity to “cuddle and play with the goats.” In the gift shop, you’ll find soaps and lotions in holiday scents, made on the farm and sustainably produced in small batches.
Info and event tickets: thebubblygoat.com
Fresh Flavors at Hunterdon’s Farm Stores
Blue Jingler Farm store in Flemington is quaint and inviting with pasture raised meats, homemade meals, and locally-sourced products. Cheese, honey, handmade stationery, and handcrafted jewelry are also featured at the store. Hours and info: www.facebook.com/BlueJinglerFarm
At Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse in Milford, they bake their breads and pastries with heritage and heirloom grains, “risen slowly for maximum flavor and nutrition.” Artisanal cheeses are made from the raw grass-fed milk, aged for 60 days or longer, and cave-ripened. The farm store also offers grass-fed beef, whey-fed pork, and pastured suckled veal. Specialty cheeses and gift baskets are available online or at the farm. Hours and info: cowsoutside.com
Sugar Maple Jerseys in Stockton is a family owned dairy farm and country store that produces cheeses, pasture raised meats, and an all-natural line of jersey milk soaps, lotions and candles. Fresh Christmas trees and handmade wreaths are available. Hours and info: sugarmaplejerseys.com
Phillips Farm Market in Milford is open daily, and offers a variety of fresh produce and meats. For the holiday season, Phillips offers an extensive selection of homemade pies, cheesecake,donuts, and sweet breads. Order ahead for holiday pick-up, more info:facebook.com/Phillips-Farms-ofMilford
Stangl Factory Farmers market in Flemington is open year-round on Saturdays, and hosts additional events throughout the holiday season including an Arts and Crafts Festival on Sunday, December 12th. The festive market is stocked with produce, local meats and poultry, cheese, smoked meats, prepared foods, homemade sweets, breads, and artisan goods. Market hours and special events: stanglfactory.com.
Stockton Market is an indoor community market brimming with produce, pasture-raised meats, fresh seafood, handmade chocolates, baked goods, small-batch ice cream, and flowers. Market vendors are complemented by artisan food offerings including: The Borscht Belt Delicatessen, D’Town Dumpling, and Market Pizza. Hours vary by vendor, visit stocktonmarket.com.
A complete listing of all farms, farm markets and vineyards along the 579 Trail can be found on hunterdon579trail.com. Individuals can stay up to date by following the Hunterdon 579 Trail on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or by subscribing to the Newsletter. The Hunterdon 579 Trail initiative is managed by the Hunterdon County Tourism Partnership and funded by the county’s Office of Economic Development. The organization also highlights the attractions of Hunterdon’s historic downtowns on hunterdonmainstreets.com.