Friday, April 6, 2012

Keel And Curley Winery - Blueberry Farming to Wine

While the family was enjoying Legoland, in Winter Haven Florida, I snuck out to visit the nearest winery, Keel And Curley Winery. The winery is just outside of Tampa Bay and provides residents and tourists an opportunity to taste local fruit wine as well as live music on occasion. Blueberry farmer, Joe Keel, started the winery in 2003 as a way to utilize unharvested fruit. In the blueberry industry, many blueberries remain on the bush when the cost of picking additional units is equal or less than the wholesale price received. Keel didn't want to mess with jams or pies, so he started making wine at home. As he learned and defined his craft - Keel And Curley Winery was born.

Blueberry wine is still central to their operation as they produce three styles: dry, semi-dry, and sweet. And last year they introduced two blackberry wines, dry and sweet. All these wines are made from 100%. Although the sweeter wines are their best sellers, I preferred the dry versions of both wines. They retained the fruit characters of the blueberry and blackberry and could easily pass for a medium bodied red wine such as Chambourcin.

Keel and Curley Winery also produces a series of fusion wines where grape juice sourced on the open market is co-fermented with different fruit juices. These wines are all semi-sweet to sweet, and to me are basically gimmicks marketed to tourists. And I've fallen and purchased the Key West – Key Lime in the past. Best used as a Margarita base. And my traveling partner fell for the Tangerine Zinfandel. Yes, gimmicks sell. But if you come across their wines at Publix or at the winery - I recommend the dry 100% Blueberry or Blackberry.

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