You don’t need to leave the state to enjoy a fun and relaxing getaway with friends and family. Located in Egg Harbor City, Renault Winery Resort & Golf, owned by VIVÂMEE Hospitality, is one of the oldest continuously operating wineries in the United States.
“VIVÂMEE is two French words we put together to mean revive the soul, which is our whole mission,” says Melanie McCallen, chief creative officer and self-described dreamer. Her husband, Josh, is the CEO and president. “We want everyone to come and have fun, but we also want them to feel revived. That’s the real goal.”
She explains that they and their employees do this through three core values – joy, humility and ministry. “We always say that we can bring a burger to anybody. And we can provide a bed for someone to sleep in. But we are here to not only serve your body, but to serve your soul.”
The primary goal of the founder, Louis Renault, who brought his vines from France, was to make champagne. The soil he chose was most reminiscent of the areas in Champagne, France.
“Our focus is to create fun in people’s lives and still hold on to tradition,” says Melanie. “This place has been growing vines for 156 years and we always want to embrace its agriculture.”
The entire property is a feast not only for the soul, but also for the eyes. In addition to the French-inspired vineyards, there is a lovely pond. Next to it, there will soon be a rotation of artisanal vendors selling clothing, jewelry, spices, honey and more.
To taste the wines made from the vineyards grapes, order a wine flight at the table and a server will come and do a presentation. “That’s exciting and leads to one of two things, or both,” she says. “A bottle of wine ordered for the table, and a likely enrollment in our Wine Club Membership, which is really exploding. A lot of people can join wine clubs all over the place, but not all wineries have what we have.”
There are two different membership packages – one where members receive a selection of three bottles of wine quarterly, and another where they can choose their own three bottles. And any purchases of wine after that are discounted. There are also many other perks, such as discounts on golf and hotel stays.
“We also do special promotions,” says Melanie. “We have a Wine Club Members lounge and priority reservations for Wine Club Wednesdays.”
For golf enthusiasts, its Vineyard National Golf Course is just spectacular. “It’s a lot of fun, and from what I hear, it’s one of the best golf courses around. And everyone loves the view from the 7th hole. The tee box is raised up on a platform so you can hit over the vines and from that perspective, you can see the full winery. It’s the most breathtaking view and you may ask yourself, ‘Where am I?’ because you suddenly feel like you’re in Europe.”
For dining, guests can sit on the Champagne Garden Patio, reserve a fire pit, or go inside to the tasting room. Full service is available in all, and entrees range from casual fare to fine dining. There will also be a French pastry market opening soon.
For guests who would like to stay overnight, the Château Hotel has newly renovated and lovely rooms, including a two-story suite. In warmer weather, there are also two pools to enjoy. Plans are in the works to expand the hotel to include a huge spa on the first floor and a larger outdoor pool as well as an indoor pool.
There’s something for everyone at the winery. Country Music Sundays are very popular, and at the end of every month, they offer a girlfriends’ getaway. So come out for a visit and revive your soul. And of course, have a glass of wine!