The wine connoisseurs at the independently owned Cork & Olive Lake Mary franchise introduce visitors to international wines, most of which originate from small, family-owned vineyards. In addition to pouring samples at a broad, wooden table, Cork & Olive’s team hosts events that range from in-home tastings to the monthly Sip&Dip, where wines come paired with select appetizers. Besides the many bottles of wines, the shelves also display craft beers, sake, chocolates, and cheeses, as well as gourmet olive oils and spices. Specialty services include custom wine-bottle labels for events, special orders for hard-to-find wines, and gifts such as wine aprons and holders and memoirs from picked-over grapes.
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.
Vino Del Grotto harbors wines for sipping by the glass or carting home. Like homesick stomach butterflies, more than 20 wines by the glass flutter down tongues during tasting flights, tantalizing each guest with three 3-ounce portions of grapey goodness in customized selections such as Yosemite View chardonnay or German-imported Valckenberg dornfelder. Peach-apricot chardonnay and green-apple riesling sate fruit-partial palates, and sips of sparkling Belle Jardin brut bubble upon taste buds, giving them the effervescent feeling of flight that ostriches only dream of.
For Bradley and Jennifer Ferguson, winemaking was initially just a hobby. They fermented their first wine in their kitchen using blueberries plucked from bushes on the grounds of their family's farm. Proud of their creation, they shared the wine with friends and continued to make a new batch each year during blueberry season. Years of practice made the wine tastier and tastier. They decided to make their hobby into a profession, naming their company Bluefield Estate Winery.
Today, they brew two versions of blueberry wine—one sweet, one dry—as well as wines derived from fruits such as peaches, mandarin oranges, or snozberries. Visitors to the vineyard can sample the libations, staining their fingers indigo as a reminder of a day spent picking blueberries and grapes straight from vines and bushes.
A German and a Puerto Rican walk into a tapas bar. It's the setup not for a joke but for an intensely multicultural cafe: Vineyards of the World. Owner Sascha has a working knowledge of more than 300 beers, to which co-owner Yellymary adds a Latin love of tapas. And then there are the wines—more than 30 by the glass. At least one of the partners is always behind the bar if guests need a little guidance sorting through the tapas menu, perhaps in order to decide which flavor of goat cheese goes with a glass of chardonnay or what kind of dip works best if you accidentally spill a doppelbock into it.
Diners appreciate the pairings in a space designed to be maximally welcoming. Live music is featured every Wednesday-Saturday starting at 8 p.m., and the hand-painted sign hanging from the stucco facade presages an eclectic spirit that continues through the rustic murals and fancy-but-cushy armchairs leaning together under the chandelier inside.