Have I told you lately how much I love wine? And within the next day or so I will be experiencing some Sonoma wineries! And since I’m away I asked Bonnie from The Not So Modern Housewife to guest post for me.
And what is that very topic I asked her to blog about? WINE, of course. This is her journey on a local Florida winery for her, and after reading her review, I am so pumped to try out their Smoothies ;)
And Bonnie, I just want to thank you for taking the time to write out this post, and bring your thoughts on the wonders of wine over to Minnesota Girl in LA.
Hi, I’m Bonnie aka The Not So Modern Housewife. I’m really excited to be here on Minnesota Girl Transplanted in LA today, talking about one of my favorite subjects: wine. I’m a foodie at heart with just enough professional training to teach me how to appreciate good food and good wine. My blog chronicles my lessons learned in cooking from scratch, living green and homesteading. I feature delicious and mostly easy from-scratch recipes, plus eco-friendly products that I know and love. I also throw in some of my opinions and experiences for flavor. Stop by and see why life can be better when we’re not SO modern.
Jamie asked me to write a guest post about wine, and I thought what better to write about than one of my own unique Florida wineries. There aren’t a lot of grapes grown in Florida, so Florida wines are usually made with other fruit juices. One such winery in St. Petersburg, Florida features a variety of wine flavors, each made with a different tropical fruit. They even have a couple of wines made with vegetable juice.
Florida Orange Groves Winery was opened in 1997 by the Shook family, specializing in tropical, berry and citrus wines. Over the years, their wines have won 244 awards and medals in international competitions at the Florida State Fair, Indiana International Wine Competition and Wines of the South Competition. They are also the only Florida winery chosen to be at the Walt Disney World Food and Wine Festival (one of my favorite times of the year to visit Epcot). Today, the winery continues to be a family affair with three generations of Shooks working in the day-to-day operations. They currently carry 43 different varieties of wine.
All of Florida Orange Groves Winery’s wines are made 100% from the juice indicated by the label on the bottle. They have a Coco Polada wine made from coconut juice that tastes just like a Piña Colada. Their Hot Sun wine is made with tomato juice and tastes a lot like a Bloody Mary. It has a heat that sticks with you through several saltine crackers. It would probably be great with some raw oysters. The wines are also great in cooking because they are made from real fruit juice.
Tastings at Florida Orange Groves Winery include a sampling of five of their flavored wines, plus samples of two of their wine smoothies (think adult slushy) for free. Additional samples can be purchased. With 43 different flavors to choose from, five really isn’t enough. Luckily, I brought a couple of girlfriends with me, so between the three of us we actually managed to taste about 13 different wines (the hostess poured us all the same flavor for the first round). There were some that I liked and some that I definitely did not like, to be honest. Their most popular wine is the Hurricane Class 5, for good reason. It is a white sangria and was certainly one of the smoothest and fruitiest wines I tasted without being overly sweet. The Mango Mamma (made with mango juice) and the Tangier (made with tangerine juice) were also quite good. The Sparkling Cranberry Champagne was very very bubbly, which kind of interfered with the taste. Then there was the Millennium Gold (a strawberry cream sherry) which smelled and tasted like perfume. That’s the thing with only getting five flavors to choose from, if you get the right five you’ll think this winery is spectacular, while the wrong five could certainly leave you with the opposite effect.
Now the wine smoothies were fun and tasty. They’ve basically taken daiquiri mix and added wine and ice to make a smoothie. I don’t know how much wine was in either of the mixes we sampled, but I couldn’t taste them. With a smooth, sweet wine, I could certainly see myself drinking a whole pitcher of these. My friends would have preferred vodka or rum in place of the wine, but I’m a light weight. I don’t like being able to taste the alcohol in my girly drinks. They do sell the smoothie mixes and tell you which wine goes best with each one, so you can make your own at home. The prices are reasonable and the flavors aren’t what you would typically find at the liquor store, so that is a definite plus.
Overall, I think Florida Orange Groves Winery has a good selection and a good concept. While not all of the wines were my cup of tea, there was only one that I absolutely did not like. I will probably stop in again when I’m in the area to try some of the other flavors I didn’t get to this go-round.
Florida Orange Groves Winery is located at 1500 Pasadena Avenue South in St. Petersburg, Florida. They are open daily from 9am until 5pm Monday through Saturday and on Sunday from 12:30pm until 4pm. Free tastings and tours are available daily. Their wines are also available for purchase in the continental United States through their website.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for writing this review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.