You don't have to go far, in any direction, to find fine wineres in Florida since there are nearly 20 in the state. When I moved to Florida, I set out to find Florida wineries offering similar experiences – wine tastings, tours and beautiful, relaxing settings in which to enjoy my new bottle (or bottles). Here are five of the Florida wineries that I loved.
5 FLORIDA WINE TOURS
My top suggestion for experiencing Florida’s “wine country” has to be Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards in Clermont, about 25 miles outside Orlando. Housed in a modern, Mission-style building set in 80 acres of gently rolling vineyards, this is Florida’s largest premium winery and a wonderful place to expand your knowledge of Florida wines.
The free tour includes a video presentation and a stunning view of the vineyards – filled with
Florida hybrid bunch grapes including Stover, Suwannee and Blanc Du Bois, as well as native American varieties Noble, Carlos and Welder Muscadine. The guides are knowledgeable and entertaining. You’ll come away happily knowing more about the wines that Lakeridge makes from these flavorful local grapes than you ever thought possible. A free tasting featuring six to eight of its award-winning wines is also included in your visit.
After the tasting, you can purchase your favorites, along with some crackers, chocolate or other munchies from the gift shop, and head out to the picnic area. For something more substantial to enjoy with your new wine, pick up a delicious lunch from nearby Yalaha Country Bakery. Lakeridge also offers monthly events, which include food, wine, art and music festivals, jazz concerts and grape stomping.
If you’re in northeast Florida, you’re in luck, because Lakeridge has a sister – San Sebastian Winery in St. Augustine. Wines are made on property, where there’s also a tasting room and wine shop. While San Sebastian’s vineyards are located elsewhere in Florida, the winery still offers free tastings and tours.
If you’re in the mood for some food and live music, head to San Sebastian’s rooftop to The Cellar Upstairs Wine, Jazz & Blues Bar for amazing views of the city’s skyline. This local secret is only open on weekends.
In South Florida, plan a visit to Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery in Homestead. There are weekend tours of the gorgeous grounds, a truly eye-catching Grand Tasting Room overlooking a lush courtyard and natural coral waterfalls, plus they've recently opened an on-site eatery -- The Redlander Restaurant. Check out their events calendar for weekend wine soirees and live music.
Another option is Bradenton’s Rosa Fiorelli Winery – run by owner Rosa and her husband, Antonio, who decided to give wine-making a try after noting similarities between Bradenton and their native land of Casteldaccia in Sicily. You can tour the vineyard and winery, sample eight or nine wines for free, or enjoy one of their regular Wine & Dine In The Vines events.
One of Florida's newest wineries is located right in the heart of downtown Orlando. Business partners Jill Ramsier, a former food and beverage industry executive, and David Forrester, an environmental industry pioneer, have teamed up to create a winery with environmental sustainability in mind -- Quantum Leap Winery. All of their wines come from top growing regions around the world, but are blended and packaged in Orlando to reduce their carbon footprint. Even though their shipping methods are new and innovative, their Barrel Room and Tasting Room are still dripping with old world romantic charm. Check out their calendar for special events or drop by for a tasting on the weekends.