The Autumn Lake Winery in Williamstown has been operating for about 10 years, but in 2021 they opened a beautiful new indoor tasting room at the top of a hill of the 115 acre property, overlooking a scenic 16 acre lake, the vineyards, an event space… and I missed the story of it opening!
For my missing this story, I’ll put part of the blame on the fact that the construction of the 3,700 square foot tasting room and winery facility mostly took place during the pandemic! And wow have I been missing out by not visiting until recently!
Well honestly the building is still so new that if you look at the Google Maps aerial view of the property, they haven’t updated the map to show the new Tasting Room!
That being said from my recent visits I could see that the Autumn Lake Winery and tasting room is incredibly popular! But I’m thinking that maybe many 42Freeway fans and folks in South Jersey just don’t know about this awesome winery and it’s amazing and beautiful tasting room facility!
42Freeway is letting the secret out!
This is an incredible story that started with a family simply wanting to have a large property to develop their home on. Later they decided to grow grapes to maintain their farm status… which in less than 10 years has grown into a full winery with a beautiful new tasting room, and winning the 2021 Governor’s Cup and Best of Show awards for their 2019 Estate Petit Verdot!
Autumn Lake Winery – Amazing Setting
Autumn Lake Winery is located at 870 W Malaga Road in Williamstown in the Victory Lakes area. Malaga Road intersects with the Black Horse Pike at the Walmart intersection. Head south on Malaga Road about a mile and three quarters.. and there is the entrance on the left.
When you enter the property from Malaga Rd. You can see off to the right the hill goes up a bit and a building sits atop it. The tasting room.
The centerpiece of the winery is now the hilltop tasting room facility, but Autumn Lake also offers multiple outdoor seating options including a side outdoor patio constructed as part of the building, multiple outdoor seating areas to the side and also in rows down the hill
Additionally further to the right of the tasting room at the edge of the woods is another more rustic outdoor area featuring tables, cornhole games and a stage area set up for bands or acoustic musicians.
And with it all sitting up at the top of the hill it provides an awesome view of the large lakes, the vineyard as well as a cleared area that is used for large events.
Autumn Lake Winery Tasting Room
Just walking to the building from the parking area, outside it’s clearly a well designed and attractive exterior… But the real surprises are after you enter through the front door.
You enter directly into the tasting room area which is one modest open space filled with windows on the two long sides.
A variety of tables fill the largest portion of the room (as you would expect).
To the right is a distinctive brick fireplace as well as a small corner stage for acoustic performers.
Over to your left in the tasting room is the wine counter area where you can buy glasses or bottles of their delicious wines and sangrias. They have wine taps to pour you a fresh glass of wine made from grapes grown right on the property!
I really like the decor of the interior which carries a rustic wood cabin feel but since the roof and the walls around the windows are a light beige color… it offers a balance to the décor. Neither the rustic elements or the beige walls and ceiling overpower the space visually.
It all feels cozy and comfortable. A perfect space for tasting delicious Autum Lake Wines, while eating food from the always changing schedule of food trucks.
The building was designed with it’s own integrated outdoor space. On the left side of the fireplace is a door which leads to an outdoor patio area which also extends the fireplace to the outside.
This patio space is fully covered overhead and carries similar design elements outside. For my visit there were 8 tables setup. This patio is 2-3 feet up from the ground and only has access from the tasting room.
So now is a good time to explain another big “Wow” factor.
From inside the tasting room windows, or standing on the side patio… the views of the entire property are amazing.
You don’t fully realize how high up the hill is until you get to the tasting room. I think from the road level the property goes in two different directions, with the tasting room building up a bit higher on the hill, but then the lake, event field, and vineyard is lower than the road.
So what this gives you is just an awesome vantage point looking out over a property that will make you think… “wow ll I had no idea something like this was in Williamstown!”
The entire property is surrounded by trees and with fall moving in quickly, I can’t wait to stop back soon and catch all of the changing colors of the autumn leaves reflecting on the lake.
Which explains the name Autumn Lake!
As mentioned Autumn Lake has a variety of outdoor spaces also. During my visit about a month ago, even though it was a slightly cloudy day… the outdoor spaces were very popular seating options for the customers
Off to the side of the patio space that is integrated into the tasting room, is another outdoor space at ground level with attractive railings, string lighting and multiple tables.
The owners extend the outdoor seating options by adding two level rows of seating on the slope in front of the tasting room, which still offer great views…and give a picnic-style experience similar to what Autumn Lake offered when they first opened.
Then further off to the right is another outdoor area positioned at the edge of the woods, also at the top of the hill.
This outdoor area truly carries a rustic vibe to it as it’s completely open, and because of its positioning away from the building has fire pits with stacks of wood ready to go.
They also built a small outdoor stage platform which actually is large enough for a one or two piece acoustic band, maybe even 3 performers
Autumn Lake Winery History
Autumn Lake Winery is a true Gloucester County success story.
As mentioned, while the newer tasting room facility did not open until April of 2021… the winery has been making and serving delicious wines for years before that.
The first grapes were planted back in 2012. For many years the Autumn Lake Winery operated mostly as an outdoor tasting space, which also included the Greenhouse Lounge which was an enclosed temporary greenhouse style tent.
A 2017 Courier Post article captures the history of Autumn Lake where it describes how owner Mark Hernandez had purchased the large property initially to built his home on. (Courier Post)
But the land was designated as a farm and he needed something to plant and farm so they could maintain that status.
Scrolling through early Facebook post I could see that early on they were selling flowers and vegetables, and even Christmas trees.
But in 2012 Mark Hernandez planted 420 grapevines on the property seemingly without a full plan of what the goal was for the grapes.
They started making wine in what was initially a smaller operation. It didn’t take long for the business to grow to the point that the Hernandez family looked to build a more permanent tasting room and wine facility.
Monroe Township records show that in 2017 they were approved for the 3,700 square foot facility at the top of the hill.
Just a few years later, the world was rocked by the pandemic, associated quarantines and shutdowns… which likely were part of extended wait to complete the building and open in Spring of 2021.
Overall its been an amazing success story for the family who when they planted those first grapevines 11 years ago… admit they knew nothing about winemaking, and definitely not at the scale of a winery!
But the learned from folks in the industry, and hired a great staff… to make Autumn Lake a big success.
I’ve been telling all my friends about this place since I visited it, and most of them aren’t aware that it exists. So if you’re a loyal fan or it’s this is new information to you get out there and check out autumn lake winery it’s definitely worth the visit.
Facebook lists hours for Wed-Sunday (Closed Monday and Tuesday)
And if the owners or management are reading this article, let me just toss out there that I also have an acoustic duo that I’m a part of, and if you’re looking for tasting room entertainers to fill out your calendar…. 😊
Links and Location
Autumn Lake Winery
870 W Malaga Rd
Williamstown, NJ, New Jersey