Travelers looking to experience the “real Florida” often turn to Lake County, where outdoor adventure is around every corner and quaint downtown districts depict Southern, small town charm. But another way to experience true Florida is on a tasty tour of local wine, craft beer and spirits. Whether you prefer a post-dinner port or would rather crack open a cold can, you can savor the flavor of real Florida from Lake County’s finest wines and craft beer.
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A little piece of wine country is hiding right here in the Sunshine State, with two wineries you can visit in Lake County. Lakeridge Winery & Vineyard in Clermont opened in 1989 and is now Florida’s largest winery, producing nearly 200,000 gallons of wine and champagne each year. The winery sits on 127 acres of gently rolling hills in Central Florida and gives free tours and tastings of its award-winning wines seven days a week. Wine novices and connoisseurs alike can sip varietals of wine, ranging from dry to sweet to sparkling. You don’t want to miss the vineyard’s annual grape stomp and live music events scheduled throughout the year.
Just north in Sorrento, Oak Haven Farms & Winery offers award-winning strawberry and blueberry wines, as well as three varietals of Muscadine wine. The farm also uses its signature Noble wines to create its strawberry cran-pomegranate sangria. Oak Haven has on-site wine tastings and while you’re there, you can pick your own strawberries too.
If moonshine is more your taste, Yalaha Bootlegging Co. will lift your spirits. This family-owned distillery is located at Blue Bayou Farms, an organic blueberry farm in Yalaha. The distillery’s original moonshine is fermented from the farm’s organic blueberries and has won awards at the Great American Spirits competition and the American Distillery Institute’s National Craft Spirit Competition. Look for the tasting table where you can sample apple, blueberry, cranberry and Southern pecan moonshine. Be sure to try the blueberry brandy as well, and don’t miss the homemade pies, local raw honey and local craft items.
Looking for a cold beer instead? Pull up a seat at any of the craft breweries in Lake County and you’re sure to find one to fit your taste. Sit with friends and play board games at Wolf Branch Brewery in Eustis, which offers seven craft beers and its flagship brew, Season, is a farmhouse ale that nods to Lake County’s agricultural roots. Mount Dora Brewing & Rocking Rabbit Brewery offers an eclectic vibe inside a 1920s building, where the unique decor of tools and collectibles meets flavorful beers made with organic ingredients. And the region’s newest addition is Suncreek Brewery in Clermont, a two-story brewery and bar with plenty of India pale ales and dark stouts.
There’s even more brewing in Lake County, with two additional craft breweries on tap for the area. Clermont Brewing Co. is set to open in 2019 at 750 W. Desoto St., offering locally brewed craft beer, thin crust Neapolitan pizzas and live entertainment at its tap room and beer garden. Meanwhile, Mammoth Oak Brewing Co. in Leesburg is the most recent addition to Lake County’s menu, although an opening date hasn’t yet been set.
Wineries, craft breweries and distilleries are some of Lake County’s best kept secrets, and a great way to experience real Florida flavors. Take your tastebuds on a tour of Lake County and get lost in a glass of true Florida. For more information on Lake County wineries, breweries, distilleries and more, visit https://www.visitlakefl.com.