• Joseph F. Berenato

Rotary holds annual wine event


Wine event co-chair Jerry Daunoras (third from right) stands with (left to right) Nicholas Carini, Gabrielle Raso Carini, Kelsey Raso, Nick Chille, Kelly Raso and Frank Raso. (THG/Joseph F. Berenato. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

On September 25, the Hammonton Rotary Club hosted their 15th Annual Homemade Wine Tasting Event at 6:45 p.m. at Hammonton Independent Volunteer Fire Co. No. 2, located at 51 N. White Horse Pike.


“It’s a fantastic night of seeing local, homemade wines, and it’s an opportunity to have camaraderie. Coming out of a pandemic, this is a welcome sight; it’s a blessing to be able to do this tonight and see all the smiling faces and the interaction,” said Rotary President Franco Catania.


Hammonton Rotary Club president Franco Catania (left) served food at the organization’s 15th Annual Homemade Wine Tasting Event, held on September 25 at Hammonton Independent Volunteer Fire Co. No. 2. (THG/Joseph F. Berenato. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

The event featured 59 wines in 18 flights by local vintners, with catering by Rocco’s Town House.


“You can’t go wrong with the menu ... It’s a great evening of camaraderie,” Catania said.


Keith Gazzara, who took home several awards, concurred with Catania’s last point.


“I’ve been making wine for many years, and the best part about it is the camaraderie—laughing, eating, experimenting—it all makes for amazing memories,” Gazzara said.


Volunteers at the wine event included (left to right) Janet Esposito, Bob Williams, Ben Ott, Ed Muller and Angie Damiano. (THG/Joseph F. Berenato. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

Don DeFiccio, who co-chaired the event with Jerry Daunoras, said that all of the wines entered had been judged by professionals on September 19.


“They’re set up the exact same way that the professional judges judged them last Sunday. You’re here to taste them and vote on which ones you like the best for people’s choice. At the end of the night, we’ll have two sets of awards: the professionals’ and then the people’s ... It’s all homemade wine. The judges are professional judges that we bring in, except for the people’s choice,” DeFiccio said.


Catania said that the event is traditionally hosted at the end of March or the beginning of April each year.


“The event normally is hosted at the end of March or in early April, but, due to the pandemic, we felt we needed something at this point in time in October. To keep socially distanced, we did half the crowd,” Catania said.


Daunoras explained further.


“Tonight’s event happened because we wanted to keep the tradition alive, and not go two years without having our event. Being the offseason, we knew it would be a light year, so we decided to try to get 50 percent of the people, 50 percent of the wines, have it spaced out enough where people are comfortable and have the event—which we did,” Daunoras said.


THG/Joseph F. Berenato. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.

Pictured clockwise from top, left: Hammonton Rotary Club president Franco Catania (right) stands with (left to right) Brandon Umba, former Hammonton Councilman Michael Torrissi and Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield; Maria Petrillo, Allen Ecker and Kim Ecker had a good time at the wine event; Lauren Beaudry and Robert DeRose enjoyed themselves at the wine event; Wine event co-chair Don DeFiccio (right) pours wine for Andrew Mish.


Daunorus said that the attendance was just shy of 100 people.


“Nothing is crowded. Everyone is having a good time. It’s not like years past, where we’ve had 240 people in this building, and that’s crowded—and everyone knows it’s crowded. It’s a fun event, and we want to keep it going. Hopefully, we can go back to normal in the springtime,” Daunoras said.


Daunoras said that he was very happy with the turnout—and the evening.


“It’s a nice, perfect night; we were able to open up all the doors, and it couldn’t be any better. Everybody here is having a great time,” Daunoras said.


Frank Raso, who also took home several awards at the end of the evening, agreed with Daunoras.


“We were in the house way too long, and it’s nice to be able to get out in public again. The way Rotary set this whole thing up, I feel safe; I don’t feel like my health is in jeopardy whatsoever. The doors are open; the tables are spaced out. Instead of 240 people, there’s probably 90 people here. I think Jerry and Don did an incredible great job tonight,” Raso said.


Laura Powers enjoyed all that the wine event had to offer. (THG/Joseph F. Berenato. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

DeFiccio was quick to note that, while he and Daunoras co-chaired the event, the entire organization worked to make it a success.


“This is a Hammonton Rotary event; this is one of our events where every member participates,” DeFiccio said.


Indeed, even past Rotarians came out for the event, including Robert DeRose.


“I help with printing out the winner’s certificates ... I came to help and enjoy the wine,” DeRose said.


Rotarians from around the area attended the Homemade Wine Tasting Event, including Laura Powers of Vineland.


“I came out to attend this event—but also because some friends of mine have wines that are entered, and they invited my husband and me out, so we’re here tasting. It’s a lovely event,” Powers said.


Andrea Mish said that she is a frequent attendee of the Homemade Wine Tasting Event.


“My husband makes wine, and also my son. My son has four wines in this event today, and my husband has been a past winner for many years. I come out whenever we have this,” Mish said.


Eventgoer Lauren Beaudry was succinct with her reason for attending the event.


“I came for the wine,” Beaudry said.


Gazzara, who tied with Raso and his family for Best of Show—Professional’s Choice, said that it is “wonderful to have a hobby to enjoy the fruits of our labor.”


“To be recognized by the professionals and by the people is truly humbling. Nights like these drive me to do continue to push the envelope,” Gazzara said.


THG/Joseph F. Berenato and Courtesy Photo. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.

Left: Dozens of people attended the Hammonton Rotary Club’s 15th Annual Homemade Wine Tasting Event, held on September 25 at Hammonton Independent Volunteer Fire Co. No. 2. Right: Keith Gazzara and Frank Raso hold up their honors from the wine event.


The complete list of winners is as follows:


Professional’s Choice

Winners


(listed in order of first, second and third places, if applicable)


Flight 1, Dry White Misc: 2019 Dry Italian Pinot Grigio, Frank Raso; 2019 Dry Italian Verdicchio, Keith Gazzara; 2020 Dry California Chardonnay, Greg Schenker


Flight 2, Semi-Dry White Misc: 2021 Semi-Dry German Muller Thurgau, Charles Mish; 2020 Semi-Dry Sauvignon Blanc, Dawn Calascione


Flight 3, Dry Chambourcin: 2016 Dry New Jersey Chambourcin, William Duffy


Flight 4, Dry Pinot Noir: 2019 Dry California Pinot Noir, Greg Schenker; 2019 Dry California Pinot Noir; Frank Raso


Flight 5, Dry Cabernet Sauvignon: 2019 Dry California Cabernet Sauvignon, Nick & Gabrielle Carini; 2019 Dry California Cabernet Zinfandel, Joe Midure


Flight 6, Dry & Semi-Dry Sangiovese: 2019 Dry California Sangiovese, Brandon Raso; 2019 Semi-Dry Italian Sangiovese Cabernet, Joe Pauline


Flight 7, Dry & Semi-Dry Cabernet Blend: 2019 Dry California Cabernet Syrah Grenache, Kelsey Raso & Nick Chille


Flight 8, Dry Red Misc: 2021 Dry Italian Shiraz, Charles Mish; 2020 Dry California Alicante Muscat, John Lugo & John La Rosa


Flight 9, Dry Red Misc: 2019 Dry California Zinfandel, Brandon Raso; 2020 Dry California Chianti, Greg Schenker


Flight 10, Semi-Dry Red Misc: 2019 Semi-Dry Spanish Blend, Joe Pauline; 2019 Semi-Dry California Merlot, Joe Pauline


Flight 11, Semi-Dry White Grape Fruit Blend: 2018 Semi-Dry New Zealand Flume Blanc with Peach, Joe Pauline


Flight 12, Dry Concord: 2018 Dry New Jersey Concord, Joe Midure; 2019 Dry New Jersey Concord Ives, William Duffy


Flight 13, Semi-Dry & Sweet Concord: 2020 Sweet New Jersey Concord Ives, Frank Mazzeo; 2020 Semi-Dry NJ Concord Ives Niagara Fredonia, Steve Calascione


Flight 14, Dry to Sweet Fredonia: 2020 Semi-Sweet New York Fredonia, Sam DeFelice; 2020 Dry New Jersey Fredonia, Steve Calascione; 2020 Sweet New Jersey Fredonia, Steve Calascione


Flight 15, Semi-Dry/Sweet Raspberry & Elderberry: 2019 Semi-Dry Raspberry, Nick & Gabrielle Carini


Flight 16, Dry & Semi-Sweet Blueberry: 2019 Dry New Jersey Blueberry, Brandon Raso; 2020 Semi-Sweet Blueberry (Blue Crop), Anthony & Nick Berenato


Flight 17, Semi-Dry Chocolate Blend: 2019 Semi-Dry Concord Chocolate Pomegranate, Keith Gazzara; 2019 Dry New Jersey Chocolate Blueberry, Brandon Raso


Flight 18, Semi-Sweet Blend: 2020 Semi-Sweet Pinot Noir Coffee, Joe Pauline; Semi-Sweet Black Currant, Joe Pauline


Best of Show: 2019 Semi-Dry Concord Chocolate Pomegranate, Keith Gazzara and 2019 Semi-Dry Raspberry, Nick & Gabrielle Carini (tie)


People’s Choice Winners:


Flight 1, Dry White Misc: 2019 Dry Italian Verdicchio, Keith Gazzara


Flight 2, Semi-Dry White Misc: 2021 Semi-Dry German Muller Thurgau, Charles Mish


Flight 3, Dry Chambourcin: 2019 Dry New Jersey Chambourcin, Frank Raso


Flight 4, Dry Pinot Noir: 2019 Dry California Pinot Noir, Greg Schenker


Flight 5, Dry Cabernet Sauvignon: 2019 Dry California Cabernet Sauvignon, Greg Schenker


Flight 6, Dry & Semi-Dry Sangiovese: 2021 Dry Italian Sangiovese, Charles Mish


Flight 7, Dry & Semi-Dry Cabernet Blend: 2015 Semi-Dry California Barbera Cabernet, Dino Petrongelo


Flight 8, Dry Red Misc: 2021 Dry Italian Shiraz, Charles Mish


Flight 9, Dry Red Misc: 2019 Dry California Zinfandel, Brandon Raso


Flight 10, Semi-Dry Red Misc: 2019 Semi-Dry California Merlot, Joe Pauline


Flight 11, Semi-Dry White Grape Fruit Blend: 2018 Semi-Dry New Zealand Flume Blanc with Peach, Joe Pauline


Flight 12, Dry Concord: 2018 Dry New Jersey Concord Joe Midure


Flight 13, Semi-Dry & Sweet Concord: 2020 Sweet New Jersey Concord, Frank Mazzeo


Flight 14, Dry to Sweet Fredonia: 2020 Semi-Sweet Fredonia, Steve Calascione


Flight 15, Semi-Dry/Sweet Raspberry & Elderberry: 2019 Semi-Dry Raspberry, Nick & Gabrielle Carini


Flight 16, Dry & Semi-Sweet Blueberry: 2020 Semi-Sweet Blueberry (Blue Crop), Anthony & Nick Berenato


Flight 17, Semi-Dry Chocolate Blend: 2019 Semi-Dry Concord Chocolate Pomegranate, Keith Gazzara


Flight 18, Semi-Sweet Blend: 2020 Semi-Sweet Pinot Noir Coffee, Joe Pauline


Best of Show: 2020 Semi-Dry Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Charles Mish