Real Food Real Kitchens was recently invited out to Lakeridge Winery to do a bit of tasting and celebrating for this years harvest season. Harvest season goes from June to September, with Muscadine harvest beginning toward the end of August so we were there at the perfect time of year with a lot going on at the winery. During harvest the winery is in operation twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
It was a beautiful evening and we arrived just as the sun was about to start setting. Clermont, FL (where Lakeridge Winery is located) is one of the few places in Florida that has rolling hills, so pulling up a hill to reveal the castle-like winery with the sin behind it was breath taking on it's own.
We arrive just in time for the nosh which of course is one of our favorite parts of any event. After a starter glass of their famous Southern Red and a wonderful introduction by the incredibly knowledgeable Director of Winemaking and Vice President Jeanne Burgess (we could have hung out all night with her just for the information and candid stories), we moved on to the back balcony to start a little wine 101. Looking out over the beautiful vineyards we had the pleasure of tasting many of the steps taken to go from from grape to completion. Interesting is to say the least considering our knowledge of wine is just drinking what we like for the most part.
After a delicious journey through wine we made our way back inside and were treated to a full tasting of Lakeridge Winery's diverse selection of beverages. Here is what we thought of just a few of them. Please keep in mind that everyone's taste in wine is a bit different, these are just the opinions of one from a novice point of view; taste, first impression, what we might like to eat with it. As the Winery's President Charles G. Cox put it best, "If you're drinking what you like and you are eating what you like you will probably be very happy."
Cuv'ee Blanc - semi-dry, a bit of sweet that might go well with shell fish: mussells, clams, or a semi-soft cheese.
Blanc Du Bois Reserve - much sweeter and as a general rule of thumb the sweeter the wine the sharper the cheese.
Sun Blush - sort of like a white zinfandel, could be a good picnic wine and would make a great spritzer or go well with fruit or sherbert.
Pink Crescendo - this pink sparkling wine had a wonderful smell and was incredibly light and refreshing going down. This one could make a great mimosa to sip with some Mast Brothers Chocolate or fruit.
Southern Red - Lakeridge Winery's number one seller since 1983, this goes down very smooth and could make a great base for sangria. Thoughts of chocolate and strawberries come to mind.
Proprietor's Reserve - this one was very sweet and dry and would pair nice with decadent desserts like cheesecake and dark chocolate.
LAKERIDGE WINERY INTERESTING FACTS
*Established in 1989 at 19239 U.S. 27 North in Clermont, FL
*Lakeridge Winery is the largest Winery in the state of Florida and sits upon a total of 127 acres.
*Lakeridge Winery and sister San Sebastian in St. Augustine, FL combined bottle over 1.8 million bottles of wine annually.
*Lakeridge and San Sebastian have a combined 450,000 gallons of tank capacity (equivalent to 189,000 cases or 2.2 million bottles of wine.)
*You can find their brands in over 2,500 retail locations across Florida and Georgia.
For more information, a list of upcoming events, and hours open to the public visit www.lakeridgewinery.com
by Craig Chapman
*photos by Darius Bass