Florida draws attention for many reasons, such as beaches, theme parks, and citrus products, but wine doesn’t usually stand out as one of the state’s strong points. However, the Sunshine State is home to a number of wineries and vineyards that produce high-quality, often fruit-based wines that reflect the state’s rich agricultural tradition.
Read on to learn about four excellent wineries in Florida.
Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards
With a 127-acre estate in Clermont, approximately 25 miles from Orlando, Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards is Florida’s biggest premium winery. The winery uses native Muscadine grape varieties Carlos, Welder, and Noble to make its premium and sparkling wines and Vinifera grape varieties to produce Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Pinot Grigio, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards has won 770 awards for its wines, with its 2017 Blanc du Blois winning the Best of Show Florida White Wine Award at the Florida State Fair Wine Competition. The winery’s award-winning red wines include the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, which received the gold medal at the Pacific Rim Competition; and the 2015 Petite Sirah, which won the gold medal at the Florida State Fair Wine Competition. Lakeridge also produces a Muscadine grape juice that earned two consecutive silver medals at the Florida State Fair Wine Competition.
Lakeridge hosts a number of fun festivals and events, including the Annual Harvest Grape Stomp and the Wine and Seafood Festival. The winery is also known for its music events, such as Blues at the Winery and Jazz on the Vineyard Green.
Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery
Located in Homestead, Florida, south of Miami, Schnebly claims the title of southernmost winery in the United States. With a full-service tasting room, restaurant, and landscaped grounds, the winery makes a great destination for a day trip from Miami. Once visitors walk through the double doors, they are greeted by a beautiful green courtyard and coral waterfall. Inside, visitors can sample Schnebly’s wines in the Grand Tasting Room, which features a tree-shaped glass rack as well as an ornate mural on the ceiling.
Guests can sign up for a tour of the estate and sample Schnebly’s diverse wines, which include a variety of table, dessert, and sparkling wines. A few of the more unique offerings include the Avovino, which contains avocado and features hints of pear and grapefruit; and the Category 3 Hurricane, which is made with guava, lychee, and carambola. Schnebly Winery also produces the Sparkling Lychee and Denisse’s Boo-Boo Reserve, which resembles Canada’s renowned ice wines.
Visitors can sample the wines with farm-to-table meals at the winery’s Redlander Restaurant. The menu also features a diverse menu of Floridian cuisine from land and sea, including fresh oysters, lobster bisque, jumbo seared scallops, and seared ahi tuna.
Panama City Beach Winery
Known for its refreshing, 100-percent fruit wines, Panama City Beach Winery makes wines made from blueberry, blackberry, cherry, orange, banana, and several tropical fruits. In addition, the winery sells blended fruit wines, including sangria and their Coco Polada, which contains orange, pineapple, and coconut. Also available are nine fruit-based slush mixes that customers can add to their favorite fruit wine to make frozen wine slush.
In addition to offering daily complimentary tastings, Panama City Beach Winery allows groups to book private tastings after hours. One of the event offerings that makes the winery unique is its beach wedding package. Wedding parties begin the day by celebrating with mimosas made with mango sparkling wine and orange juice, followed by a romantic beachside wedding ceremony and reception. The winery also accommodates bachelorette parties.
Located in Englewood along Florida’s Gulf Coast, Catania’s Winery serves as an ideal spot for wine aficionados looking for a boutique winery. Despite only producing a few wines, Catania’s has been crafting award-winning wines for three decades. The winery’s current offerings include a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sauvignon Blanc, a fruity white wine.
Also dedicated to supporting other winemakers, Catania’s Winery sells equipment to both commercial and home winemakers. Large-scale producers can find such equipment as fermenters, grape crushers, wine pumps, stainless steel tanks, and testing equipment. Offering high-quality equipment, Catania’s sources most of its equipment from Italy.
The winery also works with home winemakers, offering kits to produce a variety of wines, from Sangiovese and Zinfandel to Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. All kits include top-quality sterile must—freshly crushed fruit containing the stem, pulp, skin, and seeds of the fruit—with no water added. After just six weeks, winemakers can enjoy the fruits of their labor and sample their own homemade wine.
The above four wineries offer a great introduction to Florida’s unique wine culture. As you explore Florida’s wineries, don’t be afraid to try some of the smaller vineyards and wineries. You’ll find some outstanding wines and relaxed tasting experiences that are difficult to find outside the Sunshine State.