13 Florida Wineries for Wine Lovers to Drink Up

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Cheers to winery date nights in Florida! Move over Napa… because the Sunshine State is the birthplace of American-made wine. In 1562, missionaries in St. Augustine used grapes to make wine for religious ceremonies. Today, Florida has more than 20 certified farm wineries that collectively produce approximately two million gallons of deliciousness from over 500 vine acres. As a result, Florida ranks seventh by state in wine production. Fortunately, almost all of Florida wineries are open to the public for tours and tastings. Additionally, since vineyards are taking advantage of seasonally-fresh citrus and berries, you’ll savor fun flavors.

Central Florida

A modern, mission-style estate set on 127-acres in Clermont, Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards is Florida’s largest winery. Its free tour offers views of rolling fruit fields and tastings (including bubbly Pink Crescendo). Stop into the gift shop for gourmet goods, wine accessories and keepsakes. Most importantly, partake in festivals held monthly, such as the harvest grape stomp for juicy memories.

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Photo credit: Lakeridge Winery

Hutchinson Farm Winery, aka the “Best Keep Secret in Apopka,” produces over 10 wines from its own grapes and through local farm partnerships, as with its Blue Darter Wine blended blueberries. Sip a glass and chat with owners John & Sherry Hutchinson, a retired couple who turned their passion for wine into a profession.

Wine on tap? Yes, please! Stop into Quantum Leap Winery in Orlando’s trendy Mills 50 District just beyond downtown. This environmentally-friendly facility reuses kegs that hold the equivalent of 26 bottles. Savor the flavors of live music, food trucks and a glass (or maybe a flight) of wine in this eclectic space.

West Coast

Keel & Curley Winery, founded by a Plant City blueberry farmer, produces distinctive juice blends including Wild Blueberry, Key West-Key Lime, Tangerine Tango, Winemakers Reserve Blackberry and more. Also, grab a pint at the on-site brewery called Two Henrys.

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Photo credit: Keel and Curley Winery

Aspirations Winery, a micro-winery in Clearwater, produces traditional varieties in addition to specialty fruit-infused and dessert wines. Sip on Swamp Juice, the winery’s signature low-sulphite dry red. Or, indulge with Category 5, bursting with flavors of banana, pineapple, mango and guava. Other varieties include the Poolside Blush, with pops of raspberry, and Chocolate Port, a cocoa concoction.

Florida Orange Groves Winery in St. Petersburg produces 43 wines — plan for a designated driver. The collection has multiple categories: tropical fruits, citrus fruits, champagnes, berry/stone fruits, grape, ports, vegetables and smoothie mixes. One bottle may take upwards of nine pounds of fruit, so you’ll definitely meet your goal for fruit and veggie intake!

North Florida

Jennifer and Bradley Ferguson began making wine in their kitchen with blueberries harvested from their Gainesville farm. It didn’t take long to cook up plans for Bluefield Estate Winery, specializing in blueberry wines. The collection also has muscadine grape wines and assorted fruits, like apple, peach, pomegranate, raspberry and strawberry. Bluefield Estate also has a u-pick season.

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Photo credit: Bluefield Estate Winery

Toast the origin of native vino by heading to San Sebastian Winery while vacationing in historic St. Augustine. San Sebastian is the second largest winery in the state, hosting tours and tastings of table, sparkling and dessert wines from hybrid and muscadine grapes. Shop for gourmet gifts like olive oils, cheeses, mustard, cork openers and cookbooks. Finally, drink in the city skyline from its rooftop space, The Cellar Upstairs Wine, Jazz & Blues Bar.

Just north of the lush Ocala National Forest, discover Log Cabin Farm Winery in Satsuma. Also a vineyard, this property has been used for family-run agriculture for over 75 years. Bring lawn chairs to picnic beside 10 acres of grapes. Then shop the quaint country store for farm-to-fork products and accessories; and spend $3 to sample five table wines.

South Florida

Get a taste of the tropics at Schnebly Redland’s Winery and Brewery in Homestead, creator of “the most exotic wines and beers in the world.” The grounds boast a colorful courtyard, natural coral waterfalls, gardens of tropical fruits and vegetables and a grand tasting room. Since all fruits are personally picked for fermentation, you’ll savor unique selections of mango, lychee, guava and passion fruit.

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Photo credit: Schnebly Redland’s Winery

Summer Crush Vineyard & Winery in Fort Pierce claims to be “Florida’s Original Sun & Surf Winery.” And we’re inclined to agree because this waterside location has tiki torches, a fire pit and wine barrel tables. Summer Crush also has a Par 30, 9-hole disc golf course with targets made of channel markers. The winery produces nine playfully named varieties, like Mangoritaville, a light-bodied mango wine; Marlin Monroe, a sweet rose; and Rated Arrr, a robust red.

Panhandle

Emerald Coast Wine Cellars in Miramar Beach has a cool approach to wine — literally. Situated across from the Gulf of Mexico, cool off with a Wine Freezer! Or, rather, opt for a more traditional selection like Sugar Sands White Wine, a semi-dry white made of fragrant Niagara grapes with beach-inspired flare.

Located 40 minutes east of Tallahassee in Monticello, Ladybird Organics produces sprout varieties, pecans, eggs and tons of grapes. Hence, it’s also home to Monticello Vineyards & Winery and makes organic wines with its muscadine grapes. For another fun date night, visit during August and September for u-pick grapes.

Feature image courtesy of Quantum Leap Winery

 

 

Nancy DeVault is the managing editor of Date Night Guide and a contributor to publications such as Babble, AmeriDisability Services Magazine and Orlando Magazine. She enjoys outdoor adventures with her husband and toddler.

 


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