Dionysus aka Buzz Lightyear: July 10 and Beyond

Dionysus, thy name is Bart Jackson — explorer, writer, and gourmand.

Having known and worked with Bart at U.S. 1 Newspaper for nigh onto 25 years, I’m delighted that he has turned his writing talents to the more permanent medium of books. His new Garden State Wineries Guide ($14.95), published by his own imprint, Bart’s Books, outlines three dozen delicious day trips to a surprising array of state wineries.

In addition to 36 winery profiles (and if you know Bart’s work, you’ll know that his descriptions are way more interesting than the usual guidebooks) it has tasting instructions for newbies by wine judge Anthony Fisher, an historical retrospective of the state’s wine industry by Rutgers historian Gary Pavlis, and a statement by Doug Fisher, NJ Secretary of Agriculture — plus detailed maps, driving directions, a monthly calendar, and more.

Your first chance to sally forth on an imbibing excursion might be to Hopewell Valley Vineyards on Sunday, July 10, where Bart will have a book signing from noon to 4. If you are the first to tap him on the shoulder, you’ll win the wine gift basket.

Keep up with Bart’s next doings at his blog, NJ Wineries and Vineyards.

He puts energy into his un-guidebook-like writing. The opening paragraph off his description of Hopewell Valley vineyards:

Succumb to the ultimate in Greco-Roman hospitality. Both Sergio Neri and Italy and wife Violetta in Macedonia came from winemaking famlies, who know how to treat guests. With your glass of richly oaked Barbera, stroll down from the tasting room into the grand ballroom where you might find talented Sergio on the concert Steinway completing the mood. come Friday eves, and witness both Violetta and Sergio tending their homemade pizza in the brick ovens…

If you have never met Bart, prepare to be surprised. Think the Spanish version of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 3 — a fellow with unbounded energy, chivalry that’s sometimes over the top, good-hearted to a fault, always entertaining, and ever ready with the just-right words.

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