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 Floridia: Home to the Original American Wine 
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Post Floridia: Home to the Original American Wine
Floridia: Home to the Original American Wine
by: Ronald Senn

Many of our customers at Ideal Wine Coolers hail from the great state of Florida. I was curious what Florida’s wine industry was all about. Interestingly, Florida ranks third in wine consumption with New York and California holding the top two spots. However, the wine growing industry in Florida is not a significant state contributor to the local economy, but the wineries are gaining a growing reputation for their wine production. Another fact that eluded me was that Florida is home to the Original American wine.

Wine was first made in Florida 300 hundred years before California became a state. Early Spanish and French explorers discovered native grown Muscadine grapes growing in the wild. Around 1565, colonists started producing the Original American Wine from the native grapes largely as sacramental wine for religious purposes. The tropical climate in Florida and the presence of many grapevine diseases made wine growing problematic for many years. In the 1930’s, hybrid grapes suited for the Florida climate were developed by University of Florida researchers. It was not until the 1980’s that Florida could even claim a wine growing industry of any note.

There are fewer than 30 wineries and vineyards in the state. These few industry leaders can be found scattered throughout the state from the Florida Panhandle to the Homestead area south of Miami. Primarily because of the growing season differences, the grape harvests begin in May and end in September, which is much earlier than places like Pennsylvania. Most of the wineries can be found in the “out-of-the-way” places of the state and are centered near small, delightful country communities. Visiting these small, friendly towns could be a highlight of a wine tour trip in the state and certainly enhance the understanding of early American history.

Muscadine wines cannot be found anywhere else in the world and are considered a Southern specialty. The research and development of new hybrids will surely enhance the varieties of grapes grown in Florida. Some of the key grapes grown are Stover, Blanc du Bois, Swanee, Noble, Muscadine, and Miss Blanc. I have no doubts that development of more varieties and hybrids will ultimately serve to increase the future choices for Florida wine drinkers. Florida is also a state that allows shipping of wines across its borders with minimal requirements. It may be worth your time to check out the possibility if you cannot travel there.

On June 24 and 25 this year, the Florida International Wine Challenge will hold its sixth annual competition at the Palms Hotel in Miami Beach. The 2010 Wine Challenge is touted to be the biggest in history. This event has given out awards to wineries and vineyards from all over the world. This year event organizers will be offering an educational package that is sure to enhance everyone’s enjoyment of the event.

Many people wonder why the Florida wine industry does not achieve more notoriety. Many of the wines made there have won numerous national and international awards. Perhaps, it is because many of us still look at Florida where the oranges are grown and where Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades and Disney World are located. I recommend, when next in Florida, that you find one of the small town wineries or wine venders and try a bottle of homegrown wine. Remember, as I always say find a wine you enjoy, store it properly until you use it, serve it at just the right temperature and enjoy it.

Author: Ronald Senn, Vice-president, Ideal Wine Coolers, May 2010

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About The Author
Ronald Senn is currently Vice-president of Ideal Wine Coolers. Ron served in the U.S. Navy from 1966-1970. Ron graduated from the University of Arizona with BS and MS Degrees. Ron is retired from the U.S. Forest Service after serving over 30 years.

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Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:59 am
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