Cooking with Blueberry “Champagne”

Renault Winery Blueberry "Champagne"

Renault Winery Blueberry “Champagne”

I first mentioned Renault Winery and Resort’s NV Blueberry “Champagne” last summer when I paid a visit on my way home from Atlantic City – a mere 20 miles away or so. That entry is here.  New Jersey is known for excellent and abundant blueberry crops and hence this spin on sparkling wine was born. It is made by the Charmat (tank) method associated with larger bulk sparkling wine, but what’s nice about this one is it’s not overly sweet and the bubbles are fine enough for it to not taste inexpensive or give you a headache. The 100% blueberry juice is added before the fermentation, not after, so it is fully integrated and convincingly so. The blueberry is present, but not overwhelming. Fruit-sweetened wines can be sickeningly sweet in my opinion, especially when consumed in large amounts. But this one is not, as I learned yet again while enjoying the ‘leftovers’ of the bottle in the cooking process. Cooking you say? Yes…

The suggestion was made at the winery that one could make pancakes by replacing the liquid (water) in the batter with the blueberry sparkling wine. They provided a recipe but in fact we misplaced it so we looked up a similar one which gave us the crucial clue we needed. We then added a few other spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon to our base of Bisquick pancake mix, as the original batch needed a little added sweetness. It turns out that you can also find their recipe on page 63 of the “Wine City Cookbook,” a collection of local recipes from Egg Harbor City, New Jersey where the winery is located. The area became a booming wine region almost from the get-go, as vines too were cultivated here with much success starting in the mid 1800’s. This winery was one of the originals in the area, if not THE original (I’ve found many wineries make a claim to fame of being the first winery or vineyard in a given state or country, so I take it with a grain of salt.) It was started in 1864 by French ex-pat Louis Renault who made his first successful sparkling wine here in 1870 after a short stint in California. Renault fled France in 1855 to start his own vineyard in the USA when Phylloxera was ravaging most of the vines in Europe.

Blueberry "Champagne" pancakes

Blueberry “Champagne” pancakes

As if the smell of the pancakes wasn’t enticing enough, the wonderful added aroma of cooking blueberry champagne wafted throughout my home. To be fair, my wife did the cooking here so that I could tell you all about it. It was a real crowd-pleaser for the whole family. Said my sister-in-law “I didn’t think blueberry champagne pancakes would taste much different but they really do.”  I would say the only thing missing in our attempt was the addition of actual blueberries but I’m sure that was in their recipe, and will be in ours next time.  At $16.99 a bottle, its easy to try yourself. You can buy it on site or in a few local retailers. It also won a silver medal at the 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine competition.  Also worth mentioning again, is their amazing wine glass and historical artifact museum on the premises.

Visit them at

Renault Winery, Resort and Golf
72 North Bremen Avenue,
Egg Harbor City,
New Jersey 08215
(609) 965-2111

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5 responses to “Cooking with Blueberry “Champagne”

    • Me, too. I didn’t even know that in the US a winery can label their wine as Champagne.
      In the European Union the only wines that can call themselves Champagne are those from the Champagne in France

  1. They’re not, really, but do it anyway. The EU has put in a lot of laws to attempt to stop other wine names being used improperly here but unfortunately the damage was already done on this one by that time. Even with those laws, when US winemakers cannot for example call a wine made here Puilly-Fumé, they go and make up ‘Fumé Blanc… there are others. Sadly, some of these American winemakers are bastardizing many of the European wine names for marketing, rather than educating their consumers. They’re not all bad though.

  2. I think perhaps there is at least some clarification in the matter of the founder’s winery using the term Champagne, as he came from a Champagne-making family in the actual region and brought the original vinifera here and made one of the first American versions. Though continuing to do so in these times is perhaps disrespectful of the region, I can at least understand why it happened in the first place.

    http://www.wine-compass.com/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabindex=10&tabid=6&companyid=10d9bdb3-6539-49f4-9c3b-436d05bc6f02

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