Hosted by Robin Sussingham
Winemaking in Florida is sizeable business; if you consider a billion dollars a year “sizeable”! It’s a little-known industry that employs nearly 100,000 Floridians, embodies flavors found throughout the state, and, well, we think it’s delicious.
When people think about wine they typically imagine France or California, but Florida has long been a winemaking mecca. The star of Florida’s winemaking has historically been the Florida-native Muscadine grape. This thick-skinned grape thankfully loves the tropical environment and thrives to become large, juicy and full of flavor. While grapes are the backbone of wine there has been an exciting evolution over the past 30 years.
We have so many beautiful Florida-focused flavors that winemakers are creating blends and fruit wines to expand Florida’s wine list. Local wine experts join host Robin Sussingham to discuss—and taste—Florida wines: Vince Shook, president of Florida Orange Groves Winery in St. Petersburg; Gina Birch, host of the Fort Myers-based podcast Grape Minds; and Chuck Hollweg, an award-winning hobbyist grape grower and wine maker in New Port Richey.
They talk about the history of and trends in Florida winemaking, what classifies as a Florida wine, and the flavor profiles popular in Florida. They touch on wine terroir, globalization, education, economy, politics, marketing, and how small changes could greatly change the Florida wine industry.
We also chat about great food-and-wine pairings – like cranberry wine served with Thanksgiving dinner at Disney World – and how to elevate the flavors of wine with fruit.
“It took us ten years to figure out how to make our key lime wine out of 100% key lime juice. This has been quite the evolution for us and that was 30 years in the making to get us where we are today,”
– Vince Shook, President
Florida Orange Grove Winery