Local winery offers tastes and tours

By Courtney Combs, CORRESPONDENT
On February 19, 2014

 

The thought of wineries conjures up images of sprawling golden vineyards in Napa Valley or rustic French chateaus, but there is no need to travel far to enjoy a fresh glass of wine in a picturesque location.

Surrounded by shimmering palm trees and rural greenery, the Keel and Curley winery has all the charm expected of a winery with the laid-back air of the country.

Visitors enter through the tasting room, which has walls lined with shelves full of various bottles of wine, including Keel and Curley’s specialty blueberry wine.

The tasting room also contains two bars — a large bar for wine and a smaller one for the winery’s newest product: beer.

In the tasting room, visitors can check in, sign up for tours and, if over the age of 21, sample the winery’s wares at one of the tables inside the tasting room or on the patio outside before the tours begin.

The tour starts in the winery’s parking lot in front of the tasting room. A tractor-pulled trolley takes visitors through the blueberry patches back to where the wine is made — a rather unsuspecting building that looks like a storage unit filled with shining silver aging barrels and all the equipment needed for the production of wine.

The tour guide explains the entire process from bush to bottling, while throwing in a bit about the winery’s history. Visitors are allowed to take pictures and encouraged to ask questions about the winemaking process and the winery.

After the wine based portion of the tour, visitors move on to the brand new brewery on site started by the owner’s son. Visitors learn about the brewing process and the types of beer produced at the small brewery.

“I think that people are interested in how things are made,” Larry Clark, a tour guide for Keel and Curley, said. “Particularly now that we have the beer.”

After the tour, the trolley takes visitors back to the tasting room where those over 21 can choose to participate in a guided wine sampling at the bar and purchase a bottle of their favorite wine to take home with them.

Keel and Curley specializes in sweeter berry wines, such as blueberry and strawberry — something that has helped the winery gain a positive reputation locally.

Keel and Curley’s wine can be found in Publix stores around Florida.

Tickets for the winery tours can be purchased online for $5, or $10 for the optional tasting. Tours are held every weekend and usually cap off at 30 visitors, while the shop is open all week for tastings.

Every Wednesday, the tasting room of Keel and Curley holds Team Trivia and on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays the winery features live music on the patio.

Those interested in learning more about Keel and Curley Winery can visit www.keelandcurleywinery.com.

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