JB and I have been living in Central Florida now for a couple of months, and while the start was incredibly rocky, we’ve recently begun venturing out and exploring our surroundings like all adventurous folks should. I’ve always been of the mindset that every place you go has something to offer, so we’ve started taking little day trips around the neighborhood and to surrounding towns to prove just that.

On November 8-10, Lakeridge Winery opened its doors to the public for it’s 22nd Annual Holiday Open House. The winery, located in Clermont (population 29k and a good hours drive from our own hamlet, Sanford), is the largest in the state. Never having been to a winery before, I brought up the idea to JB and we were on the road soon after. Upon exiting the turnpike, one needs to only drive a short distance until you see the vineyards among this hilly and fairly isolated part of Florida. The place was fairly busy and we decided it would be wisest to cut to the chase and go straight for the free tour. It starts with a short video about the history of the winery and then some nice lady (or gentleman) herds the masses through a platform that overlooks the outdoor vineyard.

Yours truly enjoying the view at the winery.

We took a few more pictures but our camera batteries died pretty early on.

Afterward, you take a 30 second stroll through that walkway above the production area which leads you out into gift shop, which at the time was a complete madhouse. We walked around outside and then got to the wine tasting portion of the tour. I believe we sampled a total of about 8 wines, reds and whites and a blush, most of which were served chilled. My personal favorites were the Blanc du Bois (crisp and not too sweet) and the Cuvee Noir, which was exceptionally smooth (and which we still have a bottle of in our kitchen).

Holiday shopping mayhem and it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet!

Once the tasting was over, we headed out to the food and entertainment area. While the vegetarian pickings were a bit slim, I was able to get the gyro lady to make me a veggie and cheese pita that was actually pretty phenomenal. The band played a whole lot of southern rock and after walking around the craft booths, we decided we might as well do another wine tasting (I swear I was still trying to pick which was my favorite!)

Oh, we also got to take an extra goofy photo of us standing inside a grape basket.

D’awwwww.

It’s not a good day unless you were willing to embarrass yourself a little at some point, right? Er.. right.

The only negative about the day is they wouldn’t open the bottle we bought from them while on the property. If you’re thinking of visiting and don’t want to end up paying too much by the glass, I’d suggest buying one of their bottles and bringing your own opener. It may be a bit out of your regular daytrip route, but i’d say it’s definitely worth the trip.

Lakeridge Winery’s next big shindig happens December 8th and 9th – this time it’s their Wine and Chocolate Festival. Drool-worthy, indeed!

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