They offer complimentary tours and wine tasting at their
over 28,000 square feet facility.
Our tour guide gave a very educational presentation about how
wine is made at Lakeridge. You can also enjoy a
viewing deck, gift shop and picnic area
seven days a week. They
often host events such as arts and crafts festivals, jazz
festivals, grape stompings.
Their wines consistently
Lakeridge was proud to receive three silver medals for
Southern Red, Blanc du Bois, and Southern White, and two bronze
medals for Proprietors Reserve and Sunblush
at the 2013 Los Angeles
International Wine & Spirits Awards held May 15-16 at the L.A.
The wine business in Florida is not new.
Discounting those early French Huguenots,
Eden Winery, located
in the tiny community of Alva near Fort Myers, is Florida's oldest winery. The Kiser family began
planting some bunch wine
grapes over thirty years ago. Today they make six wines
and offer tastings
|San Sebastian Winery
Incidentally, since those early
Huguenots started it, wine making in Saint Augustine is still
going strong. San Sebastian Winery
located in one of Henry Flagler's old East Coast Railway
buildings near the historic district,
in combination with its
sister winery , Lakeridge, produces 11 different wines,
including one sparkling and two dessert wines; Cream Sherry and
Port. They are
the second largest winery in Florida. San Sebastian Winery did
very well at the 2013 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits
Awards earning a total of four medals including two Best of
Class Gold Medals for Vintners White and Rosa. They were also
awarded two silver medals for Blanc De Fleur and Vintners Red.
|Tasting surrounded by oak
at San Sebastian Winery
San Sebastian bottles much of the wine
made by their sister winery but does ferment its own port and
sherry. The upstairs tasting room is delightful. It is filled
with aged whiskey barrels used for the port. The old barrels
lend an ambience to the
room no stainless steel vat can match.
Nikki Whitney, who led out tour, offers
many helpful pointers about the art of wine tasting and how to
tell really good wines from poor or mediocre ones. She feels
education is a really important part of their tours.
They have a large wine
shop with a wide assortment of interesting items, gift baskets,
gourmet foods and wine accessories. They offer daily tours and tastings sessions at their expansive
tasting counter. On weekends, their third floor "The Cellar
Upstairs Wine, Jazz and Blues Bar" is a great local spot. You
can enjoy live
music and a selection of light appetizers and sandwiches.
Naturally they serve San Sebastian Wines as well as imported and domestic
All the way at the
other end of Florida, the state's southernmost (at least that I could find) winery is Key West Winery.
As might be expected of anything in Key West this place is not
your traditional winery. Instead of grapes, their wines are made
from blends of tropical fruit grown by their parent winery in
St. Petersburg. Florida Orange Groves and Winery, Pinellas
County's first and only tropical, berry and citrus winery. Hurricane Class 5. a blend of
key lime, pineapple, mango, watermelon and passion fruit.
It's no wonder this
white sangria has become their top
|Stainless steel tanks have
more picturesque barrels here in
Not only have the vineyards and
wineries caught on in a big way in the Sunshine State but
festivals are rapidly becoming a way to promote this Florida
Annual Sandestin Wine Festival
has been promoting Florida's fruit of the grape for 27
years. The oldest, continuously running wine festival in the
state of Florida draws thousands of people to The Village of
Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Wine
connoisseurs to wine novices join together and find more than
600 different wines to sample and chat with more than 80
vineyards both nationally and internationally. The 28th Annual
Sandestin Wine Festival will take place April 10 - 13, 2014
New wine festivals are popping up
regularly. Amelia Island, Florida began hosting its own Annual
Amelia Island Wine Festival last year. The second annual
festival will be held on October 12, 2013 on the banks of a
peaceful lagoon at the Shops of the Omni Amelia Island
Plantation. Besides having tastings of many fine Florida wines,
there will be wine makers from Argentina, Chile, Australia, New
Zealand, and South Africa.
How many wineries does Florida actually
department of Agriculture recognizes 23 Certified Florida Farm
Wineries. To qualify for this certification, a winery must meet
must produce or sell less than 250,000 gallons of wine annually.
They must maintain a minimum of 10 acres of owned or managed
vineyards in Florida and be open to the public for tours,
tastings and sales at least 30 hours each week. Only wineries
meeting these criteria may make annual application to the
department for recognition as a Florida Farm Winery.
Naturally, there are many other great
wineries who don't fit in this group but still are great places
to visit. I gave up
after discovering about 90 Florida wineries. These are just a
drop in the wine glasses to get you thinking. Best way to
discover these treasures for yourself is go on the road and do
your own wine tasting expedition.
Click here for books on how to make great wine
For more info:
Black Horse Winery
Tangled Oaks Vineyard and Winery
Eden Winery http://www.edenwinery.com
San Sebastian Winery
Key West Winery
Sandestin Wine Festival
Amelia Island Wine