Top 5 Tampa Florida Wineries
Believe it or not, Tampa does have a wine presence. It may not be as large or as prestigious as California, but it’s growing. The reason it’s been lagging behind is because it’s difficult to grow good grapes in Florida: our native grape is the muscadine, sweet and weak compared to the grapes of California and Washington. The Florida wineries’ wine standard holds a spoiled-citrus flavor with a significant alcohol burn until about 1990 when our wineries decided to mature a bit. The wines from Florida tend to be sweeter and thinner without the full-bodied tongue drying tannin of other wines. Matter of fact, dry is not a word used to describe any Florida wines, ever. Our wines are better had with ice or frozen fruit. Florida wines are meant to be had without food. It’s hot here and a refreshing wine is what we as a state are great at making.
Tampa Florida Wineries – Top 5
Rosa Fiorelli is my all-time favorite winery. It’s owned by an older Sicilian man (reminds me of my grandfather) that retired from the restaurant business and just couldn’t sit still. He retired just outside of Tampa and bought acreage intended for a garden and ended up growing grapes. He started with just an acre in an attempt try make his own wine. Now, his entire property is covered in grapes and he has even worked with the University of Florida to hybridize grapes that will grow well in the sandy Florida soil. I have been visiting his winery since it was just an acre and it’s been such a wonder to witness his investment grow. His wine is not the hokey touristy orange wine, but consists of proper Merlots, Savignons, and his own type of wine grown by his own grape hybridization called “Conquistador.” Stop in for a tour or a tasting, you won’t regret it!
Keel & Curley in Plant City on the outskirts of Tampa is probably the most popular winery in the area. The Keel & Curley name can be found in almost every store in the Tampa Bay area. All of the wine is made here even though they do import some of the grapes from California. They make blueberry, blackberry, and black raspberry wine with local berries, but others like the Merlot are from California grapes. They also make a Monica’s Florida Frost wine that is actually a Canadian grown grape since we rarely have the freezing weather needed for ice wine.
Florida Orange Groves and Winery is the old guard Florida wine. It’s a one stop shop for tourists and locals, one of those places that allow you to send home dozens of oranges to sad family that couldn’t follow you down to Florida. Their wines are typically fruit wines consisting of blueberry, orange, coffee orange, and raspberry wine. These wines are best used as a party wine or to reduce for a glaze. They make a mean mixed drink, especially if you’ve been surfing or swimming all day. Something about our extremely warm weather makes this fruity Florida wine taste great. Oh, and be sure to serve it with ice; that’s how it’s done down here.
Florida Estate Winery mixes local and imported juices to make their unique wines. They have the traditional orange wines, but also lime and a wonderful strawberry port. The nice thing here is that they mix local with imported, which can add a bit of class to the traditional wines of Florida.
Tarpon Springs Castle Winery is where people go to lock in their love for wine alongside considerable tradition. They have an old iron gate that lovers can add locks to just like the love bridge in Paris. The wines at Tarpon Springs will lean more toward traditional European wines like Rosa Fiorelli, due to the large Greek population that brought their traditional wine making skills with them. The winery is definitely worth the visit; don’t forget to bring a lock!
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