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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Schnebly Redland’s Winery: Florida Winery Visit

Florida 2012 032

Schnebly Redland’s Winery and Brewery in Homestead, Florida, bills itself as the southernmost winery in the US. I originally had no intention of visiting a winery during our recent family vacation, but we had a few extra hours and the winery was just five miles from the fruit stand where we had stopped.

Owners Peter and Denisse Schnebly set a goal for themselves of starting an agro-tourism business based from their farms in the Redlands of South Florida. They planned to provide tours of their 96 acres of exotic tropical fruits and gourmet vegetables that they grow and market fresh through their produce company.

A visit from Peter’s friend, Bill Wagner the owner of Wagner Winery in New York’s Finger Lakes region, changed all that. During the visit Wagner inspired the Schnebly’s to start a winery with wine made from exotic fruit.

Florida 2012 036The visit was quite unlike any we’ve had before. There are some very picturesque wineries in California, but this had the lush feel of a rain forest, with beautiful tropical plants, waterfalls and tiki huts. The wines also were a world apart – nowhere on the tasting menu were any wines made from grapes. Instead the wines are made from avocado, coconut, guava, mango and starfruit!

Kicking off the tasting was the AvoVino, an avocado wine. I must admit, I had no idea what to expect. This is one of their driest wines but had a pleasing touch of sweetness to it. It is exotic with a smattering of citrus flavor. (This will not replace Chardonnay in the near future!)

I then moved to the Carambola (starfruit) wines. There were two versions, one that is aged in oak. The Carambola Oak had a golden hay color and a bouquet of asparagus. Our server said this wine was comparable to Pinot Grigio – but to my palate it was plain weird.

The Sweet Avocado wine was given a thumbs up by my daughter, who favors wines with a bit of sweetness. I bypassed this wine and went for the Cocovino.

Florida 2012 037The Cocovino is made with coconut and avocado. This was surprisingly good, probably because of the wonderful aroma of coconut. This had a bit more sweetness and that worked very well with the coconut.

Moving to Mango, my daughter again rated this highly. Our server explained that this would go well with cold cuts.

One of the best sellers for Schnebly is the Category 2 Hurricane Red. This is a blend of avocado and guava, a combination that is a traditional favorite of Miami’s Latino community. This had a touch of tartness and a tropical lilt. It was one of the best ones we sampled.

My daughter closed out with the Passion Fruit wine and gave it top billing as her favorite.

We give high marks to Schnebly’s Redland’s Winery on several fronts. They have a beautiful winery, and it is quite popular for special events. They are also leading the way with an important agri-tourism venture, which gives a boost to their local area. Schnebly’s is also being creative by crafting quality wines from tropical fruits – they are much drier than I would have ever guessed. Their brewery is a great addition to their operation.

It is an interesting and worthwhile visit, but avocado will not replace grapes in my wine in the near future.

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