Florida’s grape scene is one of intrigue. The Muscadine grape, the Southeast’s little secret is the main grape grown to make wines in the Sunshine State. It’s a special grape, for more reasons than just its taste. It’s adaptable to the warm, humid climate in Florida, and is also disease resistant. But Florida also has wines outside of the traditional grape variety, some wineries stepping out of the box and spreading the diversity of the drink with fusion wines, and tropical citrus and berry wines. So it’s time to drink some wine, folks!
Lakeridge Vineyards is one such winery that uses the native muscadine in their wines. Located in Clermont, Florida, this winery was established in 1989 and used to be the center of the state’s grape industry. It also ranks as Florida’s largest premium winery, and because of their great success, have a second location in St. Augustine called San Sebastian Winery. Aside from the free wine tasting and tour of the vineyard, this winery produces a lot of spectacular wines. With about 80 acres of vineyard, Lakeridge makes wines from whites to reds, using both hybrid grapes (Blanc Du Bois, Stover, and Suwannee) and Muscadine grapes (Noble, Carlos, Welder, and Magnolia). The winery also holds special events and festivals, all of which are worth checking out.
At Keel & Curley Winery(Plant City, FL), you can expect to find the usual sweet, semi-sweet, and dry variety, but instead of grapes, it’s blueberries! This winery was established in 2003, and Keel, being a blueberry farmer, had a bunch of blueberries he wasn’t sure what to do with at the time. But instead of using them to make pastries or jams, his creativity took over and led him to make blueberry wine. Keel & Curley also have a variety of Fusion Wines, grape based blended with fruit juices. If you’re looking to step outside the box, their fusion wines might just be the way to go. They have 7 different flavors to choose from, including Strawberry Riesling, Tangerine Zinfandel, and Key West-Key Lime. Perhaps if you’ve got a free Friday or Saturday night, you can join them for Happy Hour from 6-7 p.m. for half-off glasses of wine and bottles of beer, and live music from 7-11 p.m. Not a bad way to try out some new wine!
Stepping completely away from using grapes, Florida Orange Groves Winery (St. Petersburg, FL) has a different twist on the fermented delicacy. With bragging rights like being the only wine allowed to display the Florida Department of Citrus’ official mark of superior quality (the Florida Sunshine Tree), and the only wines allowed at Disney’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, there’s no doubt people are taking a liking to this winery’s unique product. Florida Orange Groves Winery makes tropical citrus and berry wines—37 different varieties to be exact (kiwi, banana, pineapple, to name a few). These wines are not fusion or blended grape wines. These wines get their fame from being 100% pure tropical fruit wines, and because they taste exactly like the fruit they are made from. For the more health conscious, their wines are also gluten free! This tropical fruit winery makes it easy to try their wines, with wine tastings available daily from 9:30-5pm; Sundays 12:30-5pm. There’s even an opportunity to tour.