Fruit wineries across florida

    Start with Schnebly's, and take a tour of fruit wineries across Florida.

    By Maria Delis

    The room's focal point is a circular bar supported by wooden barrels. The bar circles a tree sculpture, the branches reaching to create a canopy. Hanging from the branches aren't leaves but wine glasses.  

    Some guests are eating pita chips and sipping wine. Only, these wines are not made from French or California grapes but avocados, lychees, mangoes and carambolas.

    Schnebly Redland's Winery is in Homestead's farmlands, 45 minutes from downtown Miami and a short detour on the drive to the Florida Keys. The Schnebly Winery is Miami-Dade's first commercial winery. Peter and Denisse Schnebly started in 2005 with a one-door trailer.

    According to Peter Schnebly, the couple stumbled upon this idea by accident. Peter and Denisse were owners of Fresh King, Inc., a produce packing house. In 2003, Peter invited Bob Wagner, an acquaintance who operates a winery in upstate New York, to visit their Homestead property. It was Wagner who suggested the idea of making wine out of the overripe tropical fruit.

    "We use number two fruit," Peter Shnebly said. They may look less than perfect for shipment or for the supermarket, but they are excellent for wine.

    "Our dry avocado wine tastes like many dry grape wines," said Peter Schnebly. "Some other wines, like the lychee, may have a bit more residual sugar, and therefore, taste more like the fruit."

    Driving through fields and farms, visitors forget they're only miles south of skyscrapers and bustling beaches. In the countryside, tractors and trucks slow down the drive. The winery is about five miles west of U.S. 1, appearing as an oasis in Redland's agricultural community.

    Wood and glass double-doors open to the tasting area. On the left is a deli selling locally made ice cream.

    "They're from Gaby's Farm," Peter Schnebly said of the family company that harvests its own fruit. Flavors include "Mad over Mango" and "Go Coconutz."

    The deli also offers gourmet crackers, salami and cheeses. Guests can purchase one of the wine-tasting packages are $9.95 a person. On weekends, 40-minute tours of the winery cost $7. Wine prices range from $9.95 to $35 a bottle. Schnebly Redland's also ships to 36 U.S. states.

    "My favorite is the Lychee wine," said Henry Ackerman, who lives in Broward County. Ackerman and Irena Cekarska begin each visit with a wine tasting to sample new flavors. Then they buy a bottle of wine and head outside to sit under the shade of oversized Tiki huts.

    Visitors are welcome to bring their own snacks and enjoy an outdoor picnic near the 18-foot coral rock waterfall. Koi, pacu and blue African cichlids glide beneath boardwalks. Children cool off with tropical slushies or stand on the shaded boardwalks feeding the fish.

    Every Friday night at 7, local bands perform. 

    Schnebly Redland's Winery

    30205 SW 217th Ave., Homestead

    More Fruit Wineries around Florida

    The Key West Winery
    103 Simonton Street, Key West

    The Naples Winery
    1200 5th Ave. S, Naples

    Florida Orange Groves Winery
    1500 Pasadena Ave. S, St. Petersburg

    Nola Tropical Winery
    466 John Ringling Blvd.
    St. Armand's Key, Sarasota

    Sanibel Tropical Wines
    2340 Periwinkle Way Suite C-1, Sanibel

    Panama City Beach Winery
    8730 Thomas Drive, Suite 1103B, Panama City Beach

    Vino-Del-Grotto Winery
    46 1/2 St. George St., St Augustine

    Keel and Curley Winery
    5210 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City

    Places to Remember