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LANDISVILLE - Bellview Winery was crowded with wine lovers Saturday and Sunday during the annual Italian Festival. Within half an hour of opening, the lawn began to fill with about 300 visitors ready to enjoy a relaxing afternoon of wine, music, food and fun.

The crowd continued to grow as the day progressed, keeping winery staff busy at the tasting tent. While visitors quickly got their turn to taste the winery’s varieties, more and more people continued to arrive, never allowing the line to slow.

Scott Quarella of Bellview Winery said the festival is his family’s way of celebrating their culture. “We are very proud of our heritage and we are here to celebrate that with wine, music and food,” he said. “We want to bring a fun time to our customers and ourselves.”

The festival attracts winery regulars along with newcomers. “Our regular customers like to come out because it is a different environment. Our tasting room is very intimate and one on one. This is a festival with a whole bunch of different people and a lot of energy,” said Quarella.

There were large wine barrels with sangria and spice apple sangria on tap as well as tastings of winery favorites like Fiesta and Jersey Devil.

“Wine festivals are a great opportunity to try different wines,” said Gina Pernice of Hammonton.

“It helps you understand how populated the wine culture is in South Jersey,” added Tyler Wilson of Winslow. “There are strong varietals and a lot to choose from.”

Many visitors headed inside the winery to purchase a full bottle once they selected their favorite blend. Then they made their way back out to the lawn, which became one huge picnic area during the festival.

“You get to taste the different wines and pick out the ones you like,” said Megan Andrade of Atco who brought her father, Keith Andrade of Whiting, to the event to expose him to the various wines. “I thought it would be a nice way to spend the afternoon.”

Some festival-goers brought their own supplies including chairs, tables, and even table clothes. They unpacked coolers and quickly had tempting spreads of wine, cheese, meats and fruit. The family atmosphere was open to children and even leashed pets. Outside alcohol was not permitted.

Large tents with picnic tables provided a place to relax for those who didn’t bring their own picnic supplies.

“This is my first time here, and I’m definitely returning,” said Tammi Reynolds of Newport.

“It’s comfortable and relaxed and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves,” said Lynda Giordano of Blackwood.

The R&B Show performed live music for the Italian Festival at Bellview, and food vendors offered Italian favorites, seafood and more. Specialty vendors offered items such as handmade wooden wine racks, hand-painted wine glasses, barrel-aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil blends and more. The Rollin’ Rods of South Jersey displayed cars including a Ferrari and a Maserati. They also held a chance auction. Proceeds from their shows support military families through a holiday party that is held at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Karen Gasior of Marlton and Mike Minniti of Winslow said they enjoyed an afternoon of people watching. “I love this time of year, and there’s nothing better than a good wine festival,” said Gasior.

The Italian Festival is just one of many festivals hosted at the winery each year. For more information, visit bellviewwinery.com or call (856) 697-7172.

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