Tuesday, December 1, 2009
On our frequent trips along Route 95 in Florida, we most likely take a detour into historic St. Augustine to either see the sites or stop in at San Sebastian Winery. This winery has a great roof top terrace where we have enjoyed their wines made from unique grapes grown from their Clermont, Florida Vineyard. We are talking about Florida Muscadine, Blanc Du Bois, and Stover grapes. Many times we have had to fight through visitors shuttled to the winery via tour buses as tourists looked for souvenirs. San Sebastian used to be the only game in town, but on our most recent stop in St. Augustine we found that Florida Orange Groves and Winery has incorporated another franchise along St. George Street: Vino del Grotto Winery. Florida Orange Groves makes fruit wines and sells them through several channels - including wine stores at major Florida tourist enclaves: Key West, Miami, Panama City Beach, and now St. Augustine. The use all types of fruit in these concoctions starting with Florida oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, pineapples, mangoes, and even key limes, bananas and coconuts. Yes, many of these are gimmicky - but marketed to tourists; they sell. The winery also produces traditional fruit wines in blueberry, cherry, red raspberry, and blackberry flavors - with the dry versions of the cherry and blackberry not too bad. Many of the other versions where just too sweet for our blood. Vegetables are not forgotten either. Their 40 Karat Semi-Dry White Wine made entirely from carrot juice and then there is the Hot Sun Spicy Tomato Wine. The later is actually a medal winner - as are many of their wines. However, despite these intriguing offerings are favorite was their traditional honey wine made from - you guest it - orange blossom honey. Its sweet - but not gritty - typical of a sweet mead. So the next time you find yourself near this historic city - make sure you stop into San Sebastian Winery on your drive in or out; and while walking along the pedestrian street of St. George - take a look at Vino del Grotto Winery.