Tired of theme parks? Looking for a more sophisticated trip for grown ups? Central Florida has more to offer than theme parks. On a recent trip to central Florida, my husband and I decided to check out some local wineries. To our surprise we found several wineries specializing in blueberry wine. Whether you live in central Florida or are planning a stay in a nearby timeshare rental, these wineries are worth a day trip. Here is what we discovered.
Island Wine Company at Formosa Gardens
Right off US Highway 192 near Disney, this blueberry farm is one of three wineries owned by Island Wine Company in central Florida. Surrounded by botanical gardens, this venue is often used for weddings and events. They offer a variety of appetizers, soups, salads, flat breads, and sandwiches. In addition, they have a brunch menu on the weekends. We hadn’t had breakfast so we ordered some hummus with pita bread to go with our wine.
The winery focuses on farm-to-glass and farm-to-table philosophy and grows their blueberries organically. When you get a salad at their bistro, you eat fresh produce grown on site. To conserve water they use an irrigation drip system, rain gauges, and harvest rainwater. They also use natural fertilizer and pest control.
In addition to their blueberry wines, they offer a wines from around the world and a selection of craft beers. To taste wines, we each purchased a swipe card in the amount of $15. Then we headed over to try some wines. Formosa Gardens has all of their wines on tap. First choose your wine. Then swipe your card. After that press the button for the amount you want. We selected the smallest pours so we could taste more varieties.
Fruit wines tend to be on the sweet side so we skipped out on tasting any sangria. We tried the Berry Dry Blackberry which we found to be a bit tart. However, the Black & Blue Dry Berry and Kinda Dry Blueberry were our favorites. They were not too sweet but very flavorful. Of course, we bought a bottle to take home with us.
This got us thinking. Are these wines healthy?
Does blueberry wine have the health benefits of blueberries?
Let us start with “Are blueberries good for you?” According to Medical News Today blueberries are loaded with fiber, potassium, foliate, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Due to being full of these nutrients and lacking cholesterol, blueberries promote healthy hearts. The antioxidants and phytonutrients in blueberries also reduce signs of aging, help control blood pressure and diabetes. According to Organicfacts.net, they may even lower the risk of cancer. Blueberries can decrease inflammation, aide in weight loss, and increase brain health.
The question is,” Do all of these benefits of blueberries transfer over into the blueberry wines?” The answer is yes. A glass of blueberry wine contains an abundance of these nutrients, the same as in a single serving of blueberries, according to an article by Nutrition Advance. Although blueberry wine has the same health benefits of blueberries, it is important to drink in moderation, as with any alcohol. Overindulging outweighs the benefits.
Don’t forget to buy some glasses to go with all the wine you are going to bring home!
Blueberry Wine at True Blue Winery
Dan and I traveled about a half hour south to the town of Davenport for our second stop at True Blue Winery. In contrast to Formosa Gardens, this was out in the country. Then we drove down the gravel road to the winery and went inside for a tasting. We planned on having lunch here, but discovered the bistro is closed June-October. During season the winery hosts events. The back patio held several fire pits to be used during the winter season.
While the focus is on blueberry wine, True Blue offers some other fruit wines and one grape wine. A tasting costs $10, and we got to try 10 wines. Dan and I shared one tasting as we weren’t able to order food. If you prefer sweet wines, you will like these. However, they were a bit too sweet for us.
True Blue also hosts a blueberry picking event in the spring. This led us to wonder “when are blueberries in season?”
When is blueberry season?
Although central Florida is known for growing citrus, it offers great growing conditions for blueberry farms. Blueberries ripen during March and April, and many blueberry farms offer U-pick blueberries. If you find yourself in central Florida during this time of year, just Google “blueberry farms near me“, and you will most likely find a place that allows picking.
Generally, blueberries need a cold winter climate. However, in the 1950s, the University of Florida developed blueberry bushes that could thrive in Florida’s temperate winter climate. Since then blueberry farms have spread throughout Florida and started fermenting the fruit to make blueberry wine.
Here are some sponsored links for wine fridges so you can store all of that wine!
Keel & Curley Winery
After leaving True Blue we headed west about an hour to Plant City. Here we visited Keel & Curley Winery. Years ago we had visited this winery and had actually joined their wine club for a while. However, it’s been about 10 years since we had visited. Keel & Curley gives tours of their blueberry farm but only on weekends. It was just as well since it was in the high 90s that day.
By the time we arrived we were starving. We decided to eat first since the tasting was at a separate bar by itself. However, even though it was Friday, the indoor seating for food was filled. Instead, we headed out to the patio and sat at the patio bar. The heat wasn’t too bad because the patio was covered, plus they had large fans blowing. We decided to forego the tasting and opted to share a wine flight with our meal. Having remembered the fruit wines being a bit sweet, we chose the driest blueberry wines for our flight. We were hoping to buy some of their ice wine which we enjoyed on a previous trip. Unfortunately, they no longer make it so we left empty handed.
Keel & Curley serves a wide variety of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and burgers. Of course they have created some recipes with blueberries such as the berry salad which is a spring mix topped with blueberries, strawberries, bleu cheese, and pecans. They also have blueberry cheesecake for dessert. Dan and I shared blueberry BBQ wings and spicy gator bites. Both were delicious!
How is blueberry wine made?
Oddly we forgot to ask about this at any of the blueberry wineries we went to. However, on another trip we tasted some jalepeno wine and asked how that was made. Lenora answered in her southern drawl, “We make it the same way we make any other wine.” Although that made sense, I decided to research the matter. What I found were numerous recipes on how to make blueberry wine at home. Not sure if I’m ready for that. Instead I might buy a prepackaged kit. I feel like I could rely on that better than on my nonexistent wine making skills. I included this sponsored link that I am going look into so I can make my own.Fruit Wine Kits
Whispering Oaks Winery
While Whispering Oaks was not part of our most recent wine tour, we had visited this winery a few months ago during our visit to Inverness. On the day we went, they weren’t offering tours, but we ordered a wine flight and a fruit and cheese platter so we could sample some wines. One of the unique wines they create is the Cha Cha Chocolate. We have had chocolate wine before but it was more of a creamy wine. However, this was normal blueberry wine with a definite taste of chocolate. Our host told us it is one of their best sellers. I can see why. We ended up leaving with a case of wine, 6 bottles of which were the Cha Cha Chocolate.
Whispering Oaks hosts several weekly events. Make a reservation for steak night on the patio and eat a full course meal for $32 per person including baked potato, fresh veggies, soup/salad, baked beans and fresh bread. Entree choices include ribeye, beef filet, surf & turf, chicken or fresh fish. They also have live music Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. In addition, Whispering Oaks offers tours of the winery Saturdays and Sundays between 11am and 7pm and by appointment during the week. During the tour you will learn about the wine making process and treated to some samples.
I hope this inspired you to visit central Florida and try some blueberry wine.
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