A towering wine rack spans an entire wall and glimmers with more than 1,000 bottles. Across the room, a lineup of nitrogen-regulated Enomatic machines dispenses samples from 80 wines to be sipped, swirled, and theatrically spit while reclining on a leather sofa, or while sitting at the long wooden bar. Small, shareable plates populate Sarasota Vineyard's menu in the forms of cheeses, roasted olives, and prosciutto-wrapped figs, ideal for pairing with wines or barley pops from a list of 20 beers.
Towering oak trees cast their shade across the 3,600 acres of plantation land that surround Florida Estates Winery, but the precious grapes can be found hanging from trellised vines that sprout in their own sunnier patches of soil. Refreshing and approachable, the wine selection includes the soft-bodied Plantation Red as well as the Plantation Blush, which balances its notes of ripe fruit with a gripping core of zesty acidity.
There's no telling who you'll run into on a Beer Crawl crawl?past events have seen stormtroopers, cowboys, and even a brace of rarely spotted Waldos. Thanks to themed costume contests that run the gamut from neon '80s wear to masked superheroes to a holiday-themed "ugly sweater crawl," attendees of all stripes race or meander between trendy area venues. At each one, they enjoy free beer and drink specials as DJs spin popular tunes and supervise games such as Flip Cup or Figure Out What Channel the Game Is On. Participating bars vary, but can include watering holes such as Yard of Ale and MacDinton's, among many others.
Drinking wine is an activity that sometimes makes people believe they’re funnier, smarter, and two feet taller than they actually are. Today’s Groupon prolongs the pleasant illusion with $25 worth of wine for $12 at WineStyles in Wesley Chapel. This stellar walk-in wine cellar contains a cozy bar where you can try wines by the glass or bottle—your Groupon is toward either.
Though the staff at The Brass Tap take beer very seriously, they've nevertheless turned drinking it into a game. Customers get a single point for each of the pub's 300 craft beers that they try. At certain milestones, they'll receive gift cards or a t-shirt with a new title, all the way from rookie to beer guru?and, if they conquer the challenge three times, they can win the coveted Repeat Offender 900 shirt.
Thankfully, the bar makes it easy to sort through its 300 beers. The menu is divided up into different beer types, which go deeper than the basic delineation of ale vs. lager vs. water that's been dyed amber. Guests can peruse listings of bottled barleywines and porters, or have a resident beer aficionado fill their mug with an imported brew on draft. Beer even permeates the food: the chipotle mustard on the house-baked pretzels is made with pale ale, just as the cheese dip is made with Samuel Adams. All of the burgers, sandwiches, and pretzel pizzas also have recommended drink pairings.
As for entertainment, each Brass Tap books a variety of local bands throughout the week. Trivia and happy hours find regular spots on the schedule, and some locations have outdoor patios and cigars for purchase.
For one weekend every April, Port Richey transforms into Pasco Paddlepalooza, a man-powered boat festival comprising three races. The festival's crown jewel is the Durney Key Challenge: a 2.3-mile race that challenges paddlers to slalom around turn-of-the-century stilt houses that stud the open water. The Salt Springs Alliance Classic and Battle in the Bayou focus on more straightforward feats: open-water kayaking and dragon boating, respectively. Though it sounds like a race between two beautiful dragons in boats, dragon boating is executed by humans rowing traditional Chinese boats, traveling in two side-by-side columns.
But there's plenty to do on land, too. The festival also encompasses a craft beer festival, and abuts well-maintained campgrounds, where visitors commune comfortably with the outdoors, much like homeowners who leave their windows open for the neighborhood squirrels.