Florida Guide > Miscellaneous
Orlando’s Local Vineyard
When most people consider looking for a bottle of North American Wine their thoughts, probably naturally, turn to California and the wine producing areas of the Napa Valley. Names such as Paul Masson, Ernest and Julio Gallo and Kendall Jackson are well known in the UK these days and the average tourist will always tend to look for a familiar name.
There are, surprisingly however, almost a dozen wineries in Florida alone, with the Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards being the closest to the tourist trap that is Orlando.
Situated on US 27 just 6 miles north of Clermont this locally owned vineyard was established in 1989. The founder, Gary Cox, whose interest in wine had developed while travelling in Europe and USA, had previously established the Lafayette Vineyards in Tallahassee in 1983. A few years later he was approached by some businessmen who were interested in establishing a winery in Central Florida. Land was purchased just north of Clermont and the vineyard was born. Unfortunately it became too much of a burden to run the two businesses and eventually the Lafayette vineyard was closed down.
Since Gary's son Charles joined the company in 1992 to assist with the marketing, special events, and the retail side of the business, the winery has grown significantly and it’s success has enabled the family to open a successful second location in St. Augustine.
Today the Lakeridge Vineyard covers 77 acres and produces in the region of 400, 00 bottles of wine per year. Grape varieties grown include, Florida hybrids; Stover, Suwannee, and Blanc Du Bois plus native American varieties Welder Muscadine, Noble, and Carlos and from these the vineyard products a range of eight wines including; ‘Reserve Cuvee Noir’ – a dry red which is well suited to meat dishes and rich foods, a semi-dry ‘Chablis’ made from the Carlos variety and at the other end of the spectrum a slightly sweet smooth, rich, ‘Southern White’.
The vineyard welcomes visitors either singly or in parties and complimentary tours and wine tasting are available on a daily basis. Opening hours are Mon-Sat, 10 a. m. - 5 p. m. and Sunday, 11:00a. m. - 5 p. m. In addition the winery host a variety of special events including the Winter Music Series, held in January and featuring live music, food and wine – admission is free! In addition the annual Harvest Festival is held in June and the August Stomp in…. surprisingly, August. Both the latter events feature a grape stomping competition, in addition to food, wine, music and arts and crafts. Entry to these is by a small donation to local charities.
In the event that you cannot get to the winery itself and sample the wines first hand, but would still like to try these Floridian wines then stores such a Publix, Albertsons and ABC Fine Wines stock a selection of the vineyard’s produce.
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