If you have bought wine in South Jersey in the last decade you probably have noticed at least a few bottles with the abbreviation O.C.P. This is an abbreviation for the Outer Coastal Plain.
The OCP is one of roughly 225 AVA’s in the US and the largest of 3 AVA’s in NJ. AVA’s stand for American Viticulture Areas. These areas are set up by the federal government to help wine consumers understand that the wine from these areas all show similar characteristics. The idea helps to show regionalism in wine, the AVA’s are set by geographical boundaries, not legal boundaries. If AVA’s are used on a wine label, then the wine must contain at least 85% grapes grown in the boundary of the named AVA. The first AVA in the United States was set up in 1980. Since then new AVA’s are created every year. The new AVA’s must show that they are distinctive in growing conditions based on climate, soil, elevation and/or distinct physical features of the land.
The distinctive features of the OCP are the well-drained sandy loam soil and the maritime climate. The OCP covers 2.25 million acres of land and includes at least part of 9 counties in southern NJ. Roughly 30 wineries call the OCP home with more opening every year.