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Centuries-Old Wine Discovered In Cellar At New Jersey Museum

UNION, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A New Jersey museum has made a huge find, in the form of a stash of spirits that is almost as old as the country itself.

As CBS2's Meg Baker reported, a rare vintage vino was hidden in plain sight at Liberty Hall at Kean University. It would make any wine connoisseur salivate.

"It was an oh my God moment," said Bill Schroh, director of the Liberty Hall Museum.

Schroh walked Baker over to Liberty Hall, where he made the huge discovery in the cellar. There sat three unopened wooden boxes – 221 years old.

"When taking the wine cellar apart, which is first time it's been done maybe in 100 years, and going to open the crates -- one of the crates had Madeira wine from 1796," Schroh said.

Liberty Hall Museum was once home of New Jersey's first governor, William Livingston -- and later the Kean family. It was built in 1772 before the American Revolution as a 14-room Georgian-style home, and later grew into a Victorian-style 50-4ooroom home, according to the museum website.

Thanks to preserved labels, researchers were able to trace how the Madeira wine was shipped in from Portugal and rebottled in Philadelphia by a man named Robert Lenox. His name is still legible on the bottle.

"It was the drink of gentlemen, so he would have this wine that they would serve dinner table," Schroh said.

Amazingly, the wax seal was unbroken -- which may mean that the wine is still drinkable.

"Madeira is drank today," Schroh said. It tastes pretty much like a sherry. It's a sweet dessert wine."

The wine is owned by the museum, and its fate to be decided by the Kean family. It has not been decided if a bottle will be opened or who might get to take the first sip.

According to the rare wine company, each bottle is estimated to be worth somewhere between $10,000 and $25,000. They could go for more at auction.

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