I bet when you think of Florida you envision palm trees swaying in the breeze, white sandy beaches, lots of sunshine and miles and miles of orange groves! Well, you’d be conjuring up the right picture but did you know that Florida is also home to quite a few wineries? Yes, you’re reading it right. The Sunshine state is into grapes!
Florida Winery Map via Florida Grape Growers Association
Florida’s Unique Take on Wine
Not only does Florida have wineries harvesting muscadines and carambolas and creating merlots and sparkling vintages, but we also have one that specializes in citrus and berry flavors. How about a glass of mango or key lime to get your taste buds tingling?
Now Florida wine making and grapes were news to me because I had no idea the wine industry was flourishing in my part of the world. But evidently, from what I’ve read, wine has been made in Florida since before the Pilgrims landed! One note I read said the first Florida wine was made by the French Huguenots in 1562. That’s going back a ways!
There are nearly 20 wineries in the state and many have become a tourist attractions by providing tours to experience the wine-making process, wine tastings so locals and visitors can expand their horizons and to try something new, and lively retail shops.
Here’s a little information just to pique your interest. At an international wine competition a few years ago, the Florida Orange Groves Winery received a gold medal for its tangerine wine. You heard right! The Florida Orange Groves, Inc and Winery does not use grapes in its process. Its “wines” are made strictly from citrus, berries and different types of fruit. Their Key Lime, Hurricane White Sangria, and Mango Momma tropical wines have won many awards.
Wine competitions are important venues for any business and for the wine business, they have established Florida as a source for fine wines.
Eden Vineyards and Winery of Alva, located near Ft. Myers, has the dual distinction of being the southernmost winery in the U.S. and being Florida’s oldest operating winery. It was also a winner at the competition with its tropical carambola wine and received the bronze medal for its accomplishments.
Located in the panhandle region, we have the Chautauqua Winery where you’ll find the largest vineyard in Florida. They have won both national and international competitions with their muscadine wines.
You’ll find wineries located on the east coast, west coast and panhandle. It would certainly make a nice day trip to visit any one of these vineyards, just be sure not to sample too much and drive.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour through Florida’s wine country and if you’ve visited any of these locations, please drop me a line. I’d like to share your experience with our readers.
About Samet Bilir: When Samet is not enjoying wine in the Florida sunshine, he writes about technology trends, digital camera reviews, and photography, such as monitors for photography and best camera tripods. To read more articles from him visit his website at chi-photography.com.