History, Family, and Exceptional Wines

In the heart of historic Kirby’s Mill, a Quaker farmhouse built in 1853 now stands as the picturesque backdrop for Stokelan Estate Winery. This hidden gem, nestled in the charming town of Medford, holds a unique story. The story intertwines the rich history of the Stokes family, the entrepreneurial spirit of its current owners, and a passion for winemaking.

Stokelan’s story unfolds with a conversation about its origins. The Lal family, with roots in Simla, India, discovered the property’s historical significance during their search for the perfect location to realize their dream of opening a winery. The farmhouse, once owned by the Stokes family became the canvas for Stokelan’s beginnings. 

The Lal family, the current owners, have a unique connection to the Stokes family, who were Quaker missionaries in the area. The decision to start the winery was sparked by a fortuitous discovery when one of the family members realized the property had once belonged to the Stokes family. The connection between the Lal and Stokes families, bridging continents and generations, created a serendipitous moment that set the stage for Stokelan’s birth.

Stokelan Winery, Medford, Jersey Bites, Marissa Muoio

A Vineyard with a Purpose

Stokelan Winery isn’t just about wine. It’s about creating an immersive experience for visitors. The meticulously designed interiors, blending historical charm with modern aesthetics, offer a welcoming atmosphere. The addition of a cafe-style menu, featuring locally sourced and wine-friendly food, elevates the overall experience, making Stokelan a destination where guests can come for the wine and stay for the exceptional ambiance.

Over the course of our conversation, I learned that Stokelan Winery isn’t just a business venture. It’s a reflection of family ties and heritage. The wines, each with a distinct name, pay homage to individuals and places significant to the Lal family.

Laurin walked me through the wines at Stokelan. I learned how each one carries a piece of the family’s history. “All the wines have either a tie to Deepa Lal, who passed away in December 2023, or her family members,” said Laurin Dorman, general manager. “Myra is named after Deepa’s granddaughter, Simla after the region in India, and Kirby’s Mill after the mill down the street. Even Cat’s Paw has a charming story. Discovered during renovations on the house, it was a brick with cat’s paw imprints.”

Stokelan Winery, Medford, Jersey Bites, Marissa Muoio

Cultivating the Vineyard

Stokelan Winery isn’t just a beautiful setting. It’s a working vineyard with a commitment to quality. The winemaking process at Stokelan reflects a blend of old-world and new-world styles, guided by their talented winemaker, Andrew Dick.

Andrew, originally a vineyard manager, brings a hands-on approach to winemaking, ensuring a meticulous process from grape to bottle. His passion for the vines and his family’s longstanding connection to the wine industry contribute to the unique style and character of Stokelan’s wines. The commitment to quality is evident in every sip, and the names of the wines tell a tale of thoughtful craftsmanship.

With three acres of planted vines featuring Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc, and a new vineyard in the front, which includes Vidal Blanc, Stokelan is poised for a sustainable and local approach to winemaking.

“Our next wine, Anya, will be from the Vidal Blanc grapes,” Laurin said. “Additionally, we’ve established relationships with local vineyards to source fruit, ensuring that if [even] it didn’t come from our vineyards, it’s still local.”

Looking ahead, Stokelan has exciting plans for growth, including a traditional champagne-style wine crafted from 100% estate Chardonnay. 

Community Connections

Stokelan’s commitment to the community extends beyond winemaking. The family-friendly atmosphere, complete with a playground, showcases the winery as a welcoming space for all.

“Our goal is to elevate the experience,” said Laurin. “The interior design, a combination of the owner’s vision and [the vision of] a long-time designer, preserves the charm of the historical house. We’ve also expanded to include a food program, offering locally sourced, wine-friendly food. And we’re planning a kitchen garden to enhance our seasonal offerings.”

Stokelan Winery, Medford, Jersey Bites, Marissa Muoio

Looking to the Future

As Stokelan Winery continues to make its mark on the New Jersey wine scene, the Lal family envisions growth beyond their idyllic setting. Plans for a wine club, guided tasting experiences, and a flourishing event schedule are all on the horizon.

Stokelan aims to be more than just a winery. It aspires to become a community hub: a place where people gather, celebrate, and create lasting memories. “We’re exploring a wine club, building relationships with local restaurants, and continuing to grow within the community.”

Stokelan Winery, Medford, Jersey Bites, Marissa Muoio

As Stokelan Estate Winery continues to evolve, it serves as a testament to the vibrant and growing wine culture in New Jersey. So come for the wine. And stay for the experience.

Stokelan Estate Winery
50-52 Eayrestown Road
Medford, NJ

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