A Green Christmas in Warren County, New Jersey
Has the hectic holiday season got you hopping and shopping around town, again? Why not make a relaxing trip to the country part of your annual Christmas tradition? Spend an enjoyable day with your family in scenic Warren County to restore a sense of peace, while filling your senses with joyful pleasures and good tidings you can enjoy all season long.
Nestled between Routes 80 on the north and 78 on the south, are some of the state’s most nostalgic farmsteads just yearning to share some Christmas cheer with you. A winsome journey along County Route 519 will take you to some of the most refreshing holiday destinations in the state. Here’s but a sampling of what you can savor while traveling southward.
Tantalize your taste buds at Four Sisters Winery. There’s nothing like a holiday toast with one of the many fruit wines made from grapes and apples grown right here on this 250-acre farm. Enjoy a tour of the winery where some of the blends named after the daughters (Four Sisters) and now grandchildren are aging. You will have to wait until 2011 to sample Ethan’s Pumpkin or Strawberry Serena. So plan a trip back to sample these special wines and join us for one of our grape-stomping parties. Pick up a schedule of events while there and ask about the Christmas in the Country promotion. You could receive a gift during your travels!
Further south, you will have to stop at the blinking light. To your right is Hensler Farms, formerly known as Crossroads Farm. Enchanting, hand-made wreaths and greens are prepared inside. Known for their fragrance and beauty, displaying these treasures on your home or business will welcome visitors throughout the entire season. As you continue southward, your vehicle will come alive with the pleasant aroma, rejuvenating you as you continue on your way.
Just down the road a piece is Mackey’s; look for the big apple on the left. Have a bite to eat and restore your energy further. After some home-made soup, bread, and fresh-pressed cider, you won’t be able to choose just one dessert. You will be tempted by apple turnovers, dumplings, cake, and apple crisp. Undoubtedly, you will need to take one or more of the fresh-baked pies home. You’ll have to decide between apple, cherry, blueberry, peach praline, pineapple- upside-down, apple walnut, and very berry.
As you think about who to invite over for some pie later, pick up another gift for them and you as well. Across the street, a stones-throw away is the Gro-Rite Greenhouse & Garden Center. Their vibrant poinsettias are always a pleasant addition to anyone’s house this time of year. During the warmer months, Gro-Rite can also provide many of your gardening and landscaping needs.
Your new-found energy will come in handy as you make your way just a bit further to the Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm on the left. For over 45 years, this eight-generation farm has created life-long memories for many families as they make their annual trek to the hilltop to find and cut their family tree among the thousands of trees available on this 172-acre farm. The whole experience is conveniently streamlined for you as they will prepare the tree for easy transport, display, and care at home.
Farms like Wyckoff’s, with the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), are educating the public of the benefits of getting a real Christmas tree rather than an artificial one in your home. Aside from the obvious benefit of filling your home with the fragrance of winter, for every tree that is cut and sold, farmers plant two or three trees to replace it. These additional trees help to clean the air we breathe, and are also naturally biodegradable.
Artificial trees not only end up in landfills, but are manufactured with a variety of non-biodegradable materials such as petroleum-based plastics and other metal alloys. According to the NCTA, 85% of artificial trees sold in the U.S. are imported from China and may have had lead used in production. Real trees are 100% home-grown and support local economies.
To recycle your tree, return in January to Perfect Christmas Tree Farm on Route 22 in Phillipsburg. The farm holds an annual Tree Chip Day celebration. The day includes plenty of other activities. Make it a Green Christmas this year!
Continuing south on 519, you may find that perfect centerpiece, cemetery blanket or log box at Clucas Farms West. Better yet, you may want to custom order for an added personal touch. A pleasant change from the mass production look of the large stores, friendly and helpful faces create refreshing choices for your holiday needs.
Once your tree and other decorations are ready to go, you probably will be as well. Traveling the bucolic hills of Harmony Township will eventually lead you back toward the suburban sprawl near Route 22 (leading to Route 78).
If you’re not ready to end your Christmas in the country just yet, continue further south on 519, then to 627 south, to Villa Milagro Vineyards. Your journey began with one winery; it can end with one too. This vineyard is noted for having numerous green practices. If the weather outside is frightful, you may have the opportunity to learn how to take advantage of rainwater during a rain-barrel workshop at the winery, in addition to sampling some of their superb blends.
Consider making this an annual tradition for you and your family. As you head home, your senses will thank you all the way.
For more ideas on exploring northwest New Jersey visit www.highlandstourism.org.
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