I guess it shows that I’m not sommelier, that’s for sure.
I always thought that wines came from specific soils found high up in the hills, heck, mountains, if you will and that places like Florida were too blasted hot for such delicate flavors and tastes.
I guess I was wrong. There’s a freegin’ winery right over here!
Yet again, Florida, you astound me.
I grew up in Colorado (get used to it folks, you’re going to hear that reminder much) and, even though I drove by the face of some of the most majestic mountains in the world, I rarely would partake in their offerings. I suppose that happens to anyone in their hometowns and states. We think that our future selves will take up the mantle and climb those few hills and make a memory of the views that stick out there.
Alas, I missed out.
Not to happen here in Florida, that I vowed. So? As I drive by on my way to work, I pass these open fields of vines that constitute Lakeridge Winery. Farmland is usually easy to ignore (sadly, I might add), but vines? Their unique shape calls a passerby to attend. I finally got to partake in the offerings of this vineyard just this past week.
What an unexpected surprise!
The Lakeridge Winery is located just north of the Orlando suburb of Clermont, in the next county over. It takes advantage of being only 45 minutes from the Disney World resort, perhaps a shorter drive from downtown Orlando. It was established in February of 1989 and does not have the accompanying history of so many of the larger wines of Napa and Sonoma. Still, for someone visiting there’s something that is so NOT Disney and touristy, that it is quite well worth a visit.
Every fifteen to tweny minutes, a short video is played, illustrating the history of the winery and the owners. We are talking Discovery Channel level here, so, even if you do bring the kids, it bore them but keep the adults interested.
And we are talking adults here, right? Those of drinking age? This is not something to bring the kids with. Sure, the location does everything to accommodate the tykes, but, in the end, what do you think would interest them at a winery? There are frequent events here on site (the wide open spaces around the main housing encourages it), that may offer more for the kids, but overall, this is strictly for those who like to sip a decent Southern Red.
Afterwards, you head out onto a brief catwalk to see the processing stations. The space is tight and the ceiling is low, but the talk is quick and more open for questions. The next step is onto a broad patio (be careful if it’s during a Florida’s midday sun) and then back inside.
As a group, you are then arranged around a large bar for tastings from the wines. That day we were exposed to ten different flavors, some good, some bad. A menu is provided with writing utensils to take note, should you find flavors you must have. In addition, the stacks of bottles are arranged as they are on the menu, so you can make the purchases should you find fit.
However, and this is the cool part, it’s free through the tasting, provided you are old enough to drink. Keep that in mind, as youngsters must legally stand behind you if they are underage and, well, that can be embarassing.
There’s also a small gift shop with wine themed items for the wine enthusiast.
It’s actually quite fun and I do recommend it. However, it is a bit of the hike from Orlando and the Disney parks and there’s not much else in the area, outside of the Citrus Tower and the Showcase of Citrus. We ended up spending about an hour and half, maybe two, which is not much time given the travel out and back if you’re staying at Pop Century.
My ultimate recommendation? If you know locals, it is a great attraction to meet them out and see how life is like beyond the fabricated theme parks. Bring a picnic and enjoy. I know I’ll be back. Better? Grab a bottle or two, by far cheaper (and, frankly, better), and imbibe in your hotel room!