Summertime is for sampling spirits and stomping grapes at the Lakeridge Winery
|Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards of Clermont, Fla., is located at 19239 N. U.S. Highway 27. Free tours of the winery are offered daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the winery or its hosted events, call (352) 394-8627 or (800) 768-WINE or log on to www.lakeridgewinery.com.
Come each April, the buds on the vine begin to break. Before long, the glistening grapes peek their way through the foliage and dot the hilly landscape.
Welcome to the Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards located in Clermont, Fla. If you are surprised, don’t worry most people are when hearing about this award-winning Central Florida winery.
When talking about winemaking in the United States, California tends to be the first state to come to mind. However, winemaking started in Florida in the 1560s, almost 200 years before California.
“We’re producing high quality wines from a Florida product,” boasts Kyle Johnson from Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards. “A lot of people are still shocked to see that you can make a quality wine in Florida.”
Along with producing nearly 200,000 gallons of delicate wines and sparkling champagne each year, the Lakeridge Winery is a Lake County attraction all to itself. Besides offering complimentary wine tastings and tours seven days a week, the winery is routinely transformed into a happening entertainment spot for its many festivals.
Like so many other wineries, the summer is a busy time of year as the harvest matures. The winery celebrates its fruitful season with the 14th Annual Harvest Festival from June 17-19. The event features arts and crafts, live music and grape stomping.
Traditions at the festival include donating the $2 admission to a worthy cause — this year’s beneficiary is the Hospice Foundation. During each day of the festival at 1:30 p.m., the grape harvest is blessed.
Another annual event on the horizon for the winery is its jazz festival dedicated to mothers. On May 7 and 8, the winery hosts four different jazz musicians for a special Mother’s Day treat. Admission to “Jazz on the Vineyard Green” is $2, but free for all mothers and children under 12.
While the festivals make for extra special trips to the winery, the scenery surrounding Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards is all the incentive visitors need to make the trip worthwhile.
Perched atop one of Clermont’s infamous hills, the winery overlooks 127 acres of working vineyards. From the balcony of the majestic, Spanish-style building of the winery, tour groups soak in the Florida sun and views of a valley of vineyards along with a small lake. The setting is also the breath-taking backdrop for Lakeridge’s massive outdoor stage.
Amidst the surreal scenery and fun festivals, Lakeridge produces some outstanding wines, which have garnered more than 200 awards and honors worldwide. The Southern Red, a semi-sweet red table wine made from the Noble variety of Muscadine grape, is a longtime best seller for the winery.
The Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards gift shop offers the Southern Red and about 10 other varieties. Various wine paraphernalia and gourmet foods are also available at the gift shop.
As Lakeridge continues to produce the best wine in Florida, the market for its products increases exponentially. The winery has recently expanded its services to include wholesaling to local stores, which was influenced by customer demand.