Florida Wine Frenzy

When in Rome…….or Florida….do as the natives do! I love Florida’s unique take on wine. One of the cool things about the Sunshine State is their array of winemakers in the business of creating extra yummy and very unique fruit wines.  They seem to be the masters of “not grape” fruit wines. I’m saying literally, wines made without grapes; instead, using any other type of a fruit, like strawberry, or mango, or banana, and even dragon fruit!

I’m not talking about the age old “Boones Farm” tasting wine, either. No, Florida fruit wines are amazingly delicious, interesting blends FF Orange2and infusions that hook you at the first sip.  Some present a delicate touch to the pallet, others boast a bold flavor, and others sneak up on you with a burst of sweetness, even a chocolate-coffee tingle on the tongue, one of my personal favorites.

A few Florida wineries also delve into some not so typical wines, like carrot, lemon, and tomato wine. They are not bashful about experimenting with new fruits, and it’s a good thing! Of course, the staple grape down south is the muscadine, since other varieties are so impossible to grow in the tropical climate.

One great place to experience unusual, authentic fruit wines is Bunker Hills WineryBunkerIt’s a drive to what you may think is the “middle of nowhere” (Parrish FL) but I promise it’s worth the effort.  Bunker Hills is an ERW (Environmentally Responsible Winery), which means a very long list of commitments that you can learn about on their amazing tours.  Their winemaking process is completely green, organic, and “old fashioned” to the degree of making their own distilled water, and racking small batch glass carboy bottles for months in a temperature controlled environment, then bottling in recycle bottles.  Their wines are extremely seasonal and produced in small batches as the fruit becomes ready to work, and they sell out in a blink of the eye!  I have so many favorites.  Their Peach Sparkling wine is at the top of my list.

FF DakotahIf you want to go for a relaxing, scenic drive just outside of the Ocala area, Dakotah Winery in Chieftain is a great destination day trip to enjoy beautifully produced “traditional” wines that rely more on the muscadine grape.  Lush green pastures, soft rolling hills, this is horse country, and home to super friendly winemakers with great tasting wines!  A couple of my favorites are Dakotah’s  Port—a rich warm hug that makes you smile, perfect on a cool evening, and their Blackberry dessert wine—–oh so robust and delicious! After wine tasting you can shop their retail area, or take a peek at the wood ducks that hang out in their koi pond.

On the back roads skirting the edge of Bradenton, you’ll find the peaceful Rosa Fiorelli FF Rosa1Vineyards.  While this winemaker doesn’t delve into fruit wines, I have to say, she produces some truly spectacular muscadine wines.  I think her secret is using Old World Sicilian recipes from her homeland.  She can almost always be found behind the counter serving up wine tastings, with her gregarious friendliness and charm. Fiorelli’s offers Italian Buffet Dinner Tours and Wine and Dine evening  events throughout the year.  Her reds with lasagna?  Oh so yummy!  She has perfected an amazing muscadine dessert wine that feels warm yet crisp on the tongue with just the right amount of sweetness.  Perfect to share on special occasions, paired with something utterly chocolate.  Ah, decadence!

FF Orange1You are in for a real treat with Florida Orange Groves Winery in Pasadena.  This is home to the original fruit winery of Florida, and is the only winery allowed to use the official Florida Sunshine Tree symbol on their packaging. They have perfected the art of fruit wine production and offer over 40 different flavors of tropical fruit wines to choose from.  I have three absolute favorites:   Cocoa Beach (orange chocolate wine) Midnight Sun (orange coffee wine) and Banana wine.  In addition to presenting an FF Smoothieamazing selection of wines, they sell wine in a pouch, and wine smoothie mixes that take wine drinking to a whole new level.  On top of all that, they have a gift shop that can put a person into long term debt!  They offer so many cool, fun, wine accessories, glassware and other gifty items–it’s downright dangerous.

 

The Florida Winery is definitely where the action is.  Located in Madeira Beach, iFF MadBeach1n the heart of touristy John’s Pass.  This is a high energy, high traffic wine stop for anyone looking for VOLUME deals on wine.  They provide mix and match volume discounts that bring their tasty fruit wines to about $11 a bottle, and smoothie mixes, too.  They produce over a dozen flavors of wine including a marvelous Pirates Mead (orange honey wine).  I’m also particularly fond of their Razi (Raspberry) and Powi (Pomegranate) wines.  You’ll find plenty of gifts and souvenirs to choose from, too.   Besides the wine tasting experience, you can purchase a glass of wine or a wine slushy “to go” and stroll the 10 block strip of retail shops with it.  Hmmmm, another dangerous idea if you ask me….and oh did I mention that directly above them upstairs is where Mad Beach Craft Brewery is located?  Get a burger and get your craft beer taste buds going!

Lake Placid is a great town to visit for several reasons, and if you decide to go, Hen Scratch Farms is a “must do” stop to include in your day.  Where else can you walk among a couple hundred free ranging chickens, pick your own strawberries, muscadines and scuppernogs, and sample amazing wines?  All this plus a country store that sells cute crafty stuff, jellies, jams and EGGS, and a treat stand that serves up amazing strawberry shortcake, and fresh picked chocolate covered….yup… STRAWBERRIES!  They offer an array of award winning grape based wines, indeed.   I sure gravitate to their Blueberry Port, but also delight in their Southern Magnolia and Red Rooster wines.

FF KeelGee, could it be more than a coincidence that Keel and Curley Winery regularly win awards for their Strawberry Fusion wine, and are located in Plant City—the strawberry capital of the world?  And how convenient that they are also home to Two Henry’s Brewery, the makers of “Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberry Stout”?  Yes, friends, this destination is the best of both worlds, wine and beer.  I’m sold on these two divine liquids, as well as their Sangria.  But there are many, many other taste sensations to experience.  It doesn’t hurt that you can order yourself a glass or bottle of your fave, grab some great food from their restaurant; Railcar 91, and sit down to live music on the weekend.  Yup, this is great day trip any day of the week that could last into the evening.

I could go on and on about Florida vineyards, as I’ve just scratched the surface with these seven. Perhaps it’s time to look at a Glamping experience with PR Brady AdVentures –we’ll create your own custom Florida wine tasting tour?  Trust me, it’s easy to get caught up in the Florida Fruit Wine Frenzy and I’m dialed in to the best destinations!

 

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