Mention Florida and stunning beaches, lush golf courses and Mickey, Donald and Shamu immediately come to mind, but wine?
Yes, Florida has a variety of ways locals and visitors can enjoy fine wines. There are high-profile wineries, superb festivals and elegant wine bars that head the list of the eclectic lineup of activities available for wine lovers in Florida.
Located in Clermont, 25 miles west of downtown Orlando, is Florida’s largest winery with an overall production of more than 960,000 bottles. Set on 127 acres of undulating terrain, Lakeridge specializes in hybrid grapes such as blanc du bois and Stover. Complimentary tours and wine tastings are available seven days a week . The tours, which last 45 to 50 minutes, include a 12-minute video presentation, a walk through the production area and a wine tasting. Call 800-768-WINE or visit www.lakeridgewinery.com.
Boca Raton Wine & Food Festival
Staged in November on East Camino Real in Boca Raton, this two-year-old festival features more than 50 tasting sessions and cuisine from 70 of south Florida’s top chefs. Some of the wines featured this year include Domaine Serene Vineyards (Oregon), Guardia 33 (Italy) and Giol (Italy). There’s also a retail bazaar with stalls offering everything from gelato and cigars to gourmet spices and jewelry. For more information, call 561-338-7594 or check out www.BocaRatonWineandFoodFestival.com.
San Sebastian Winery
Featuring table, sparkling and dessert wines from hybrid and muscadine grapes, San Sebastian Winery in downtown St. Augustine has been producing wines for 15 years. Complimentary tours and wine tasting is offered seven days a week. For music lovers, the Wine, Jazz & Blues Bar is situated on the rooftop of the Winery building. The menu features meat and cheese platters and sandwiches. To plan your visit, call 904-826-1594 or go to www.sansebastianwinery.com.
Tropical fruit wine, anyone?
If you've never had a key lime, banana or passion fruit wine, head to Florida. The Florida Orange Groves Winery produces 37 different varieties of wine made with fruits like mangos, raspberries, kiwi, pineapple, banana, watermelon and passion fruit. Its main winery is located in St. Petersburg at 1500 Pasadena Ave. S, and the 15-year-old company also has retail outlets throughout the state. Visit www.floridawine.com to learn more.
Vineyard Wine Bar
With more than 700 wines in the bar and more than 30 vintages poured by the glass daily, The Vineyard is one of Orlando’s more popular wine bars. Located a couple of blocks from the posh Isleworth community at 4848 S. Apopka-Vineland Road, this sophisticated yet relaxed wine bar also offers an outdoor patio, a nosh menu with items like breaded ravioli, Mediterranean veggie flatbread, herb marinated steak flatbread and an antipasto platter, and live entertainment on Friday and Saturday. Call 407-909-9522 for more details or visit www.thevineyardwinebarorlando.com.
To be sure, there’s nothing like enjoying a phenomenal Florida sunset and a delicious glass of wine produced in the state.