For Ron Hunt, there isn’t a business card wide enough for all of his positions, both official and unofficial, at Florida Estates Winery.
“(My) title is vice president, general manager, winemaker, dishwasher, plumber, electrician, yard man, vineyardist … everything,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve got lots of titles."
Hunt is the man behind the vino at the Land O’ Lakes winery, a small-production operation on State Road 52 that has been in business since December 2001. Florida Estates currently offers eight different bottles: plantation white, chardonnay (two styles), plantation blush, plantation red, orange, key lime, plantation spice and strawberry port.
Each wine sells for $13.95, except the chardonnay and port, which fetch $15.95 and $23.95, respectively.
Florida Estates used to have 10 acres of grapes on site until severe weather destroyed the vineyard. So Hunt moved the grapes to a parcel by the Panhandle and another in the center of the state.
“From there we pick the grapes and start the fermentation,” he said. “After fermentation is part way through, I transfer them down here and we do all the blending, bottling, corking, capping, labeling. Everything is done by hand.”
You won’t find Florida Estates bottles at your corner liquor store or Total Wine. Although it is available in “a few specialty shops” around the state, Hunt said, the best place to purchase the products are at the winery itself, where the drinks can be sampled. For those who can’t make the trek to Land O’ Lakes, however, shipping is available.
Who are the winery’s customers?
“You,” Hunt said. “Really, everybody who walks in that door is a customer. We have regulars that have been coming back ever since we’ve been open, snowbirds, tourists — we have had people from all over the world.”
Although the perception is changing, the world of wine can sometimes be seen as intimidating and spilling over with esoteric language. Hunt said wine can be “friendly,” too.
“We are taught that wine is overwhelming,” said Hunt, who hosts an Internet radio talk show called All About Wine. “But there are two types of wines in the world: the type you like and the type you don’t. That’s all you need to know. Everything else is puff.”
Festival This Saturday (April 27, 2013)
Florida Estates Winery holds a wine festival about every two weeks. The next one is April 27. Held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., it will include vendors, entertainment and a chance to sample different wines. For more information, visit the operation's webpage or on Facebook.
Address: 25241 State Road 52, Land O' Lakes.
Phone: (813) 996-2113.
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