Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Florida Wines?

Boo had to take a short trip to Florida for a family gathering. So, I asked him to keep an eye open and try to pick up a couple local wines as something different to try.

Locally made wine isn't usually the first agricultural product one thinks of when talking Florida, but the history books apparently note the St. Augustine area as being the birthplace of American wine. Spanish missionaries are credited with growing grapes for sacramental wine as early as 1562.

Despite the state's storied past, I don't think there are any Californian winemakers quaking in their boots yet. There does appear to be a couple dozen wineries in Florida nowadays though, producing wines made from grapes and from tropical fruit. Due to the state's tropical climate, traditional vitis vinifera grapes do not grow well and, accordingly, grape growers look more to hybrid varieties that have been developed to flourish next to the beach loving locals. The primary grapes used for winemaking in Florida - like Muscadine, Blanc du Bois and Noble - are hardly varieties that you'd find in Napa, Oregon or Washington but I have seen them grown further up the East coast to be used in making Virginia and North Carolina wines.

I've also seen mention of Florida wines made from tropical fruit like mango, key lime, oranges and grapefruit and I was rather hoping that Boo would bring back an orange or a key lime wine. That was not to be, however, as he didn't see any of those bottles on his limited journeys. Indeed, his kin and most stores looked at him rather strangely when he even asked about Florida wines.

1295.  N.V. San Sebastian Vintners White (Florida)

Boo did manage to find a few Florida wines though and we opened one promptly upon his return. San Sebastian has been around since 1996 and the winery is found just outside of the St. Augustine historical district. They currently produce just shy of a dozen different wines - including cream sherry and a port - and all of their wines are made from grapes.

The Vintners White is made from Muscadine and, although the website proudly trumpets all the awards and medals the wine has won, I don't know that this is the wine that is going to put Florida wineries on the international map. I don't try a lot of Muscadine wines; so, I can hardly speak from any position of authority, but the simplicity of the wine and the decidedly off-dry nature aren't going to result in my lobbying for local wine shops to bring in some Floridian wines any time soon.

I will still look forward to trying an orange or key-lime wine though.


  1. I hear fl makes orange blossom wine too

    1. With a bit of luck, I might be briefly passing through Florida next spring. If that's the case, I'll definitely be keeping my eye open for a beast such as orange blossom wine.

      Thanks for checking in. Cheers.