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.
Starting from humble roots in his farmhouse kitchen, Keel and Curley’s founder, Joe Keel, started his winery in 2003 with just 10 gallons of homemade blueberry wine, made from the leftover crop of that year’s berries. Today, the company has grown to produce more than 20,000 cases of fruit-based ambrosias, including blueberry, blackberry, and seven fusion wines forged from a blend of fresh fruit and classic grape-based red and white varietals. After touring the winery's facilities to learn about the winemaking process, guests may sample vintages crafted from strawberries, key lime, and peaches while perched on tall wooden stools behind the bar area of the tasting room. They may also steal away to the outdoor wooden deck, which offers panoramic views of the green vineyards, tree-lined pond, and white gazebo, which plays host to wedding ceremonies and re-enactments of wedding ceremonies. The after-hours wine bar keeps guests entertained throughout the night with UnCorked events featuring live music, appetizers, and happy hour specials.
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.
Bootleggers, a storehouse of brewing equipment and expertise, guides novice alchemists in their attempts to transmute vine-fruit into precious alcohol. Choose from merlot, cabernet sauvignon, port, or other select ingredient kits, the largest of which can produce up to 30 bottles. With the assistance of wine-making professionals at Bootleggers, customers will brew their wine on-site, where it will rest in glass carboys for four to five weeks. Afterward, the Bootleggers staff will lead patrons into a deep cellar, promising them a cask of amontillado. When picking up wines, patrons can either provide their own bottles or buy a bottle, cork, and label kit from Bootleggers (about $56-63).
Since 1980, Time For Wine has colored the palates of wine lovers with a wealth of limited-production vintages from around the world that are typically unavailable in stores, restaurants, or juice boxes. Personal consultants continue the cherished traditions of European wine tasting by helping clients select a choice bottle with thorough sampling, taste analysis, and metaphors that may involve freshly cut grass or the musk of a well-travelled nickel. The boutique's sommeliers can make house calls to customers to host tastings of wines such as Italian chianti and South American malbec, and mail orders of finely aged grape juices ship within 24 hours. Customized labels grace specially ordered bottles with family photos, family crests, and personal messages.
Chefs at La Casa Della Pasta embellish pastas, gnocchi, and desserts made in-house with handfuls of imported Italian ingredients, including eggplant and mozzarella. As owner Enrique Tangari told the Tampa Bay Times in 2011, "I import everything, flour, water, tomatoes, cheeses … to make any kind of pasta dish you want, on the menu or not." His commitment to imported flavor also extends to the restaurant's drink menu, which features wines made from such traditional Italian varietals as pinot grigio, sangiovese, and nebbiolo, as well as beers with suspiciously small amounts of fermented grape juice.