When Larry Honeycutt uncorks a bottle of wine, it might be a dry blackberry, a tangy grapefruit, a peach, carrot, kiwi, key lime, or even chocolate. While most wineries offer traditional wines made from grapes, Panama City Beach Winery offers 37 varieties of unique award winning Florida fruit wine that keeps area residents and out of town tourists coming back for more.
About Panama City Beach Winery
Larry is the owner, greeter, wine pourer, and chief cheerleader of Panama City Beach Winery, and has been ever since the wine cellar opened in 2003. An independently owned, authorized distributor of the 100 % Florida wine that is made in St. Petersburg by the parent company Florida Orange Groves Inc. and Winery, Panama City Beach Winery is number three of the company’s now 23 “satellite” stores.
Targeting non-wine and non-traditional wine drinkers, the Panama City Beach Winery has had tremendous success with their unique, tropical fruit wine, citrus wine, and vegetable wine. Vegetable wine? The wine list includes wine made from carrots (a buttery, semi-dry white wine reminiscent of Chardonnay) and tomatoes (a dry white wine with a hint of tomatoes and peppers that goes well with spicy foods). Wine can be made from anything that will ferment, says Larry.
Located across the street from the beach, the shop gets a lot of customers looking for a place to cool off and they are often surprised by the refreshing tropical wines they find inside. The gift shop carries a collection of fun wine-related items such as wine glasses and wine bottle holders and a variety of snacks and appetizer mixes are stacked near the extra long wine tasting bar.
Fruit Wine Tasting
Panama City Beach Winery offers complimentary wine tasting of its vast array of wines. Customers are urged to select three or four wines based on their fruit preferences. For instance, if a customer likes bananas, pineapples, and oranges, they would select Florida Banana, Sunset Pineapple and Orange Sunshine. Subcategories can include a preference for dry or semi-sweet wines. After tasting the wines, customers almost always leave with at least a bottle or two.
Some of the more popular wines include Midnight Sun, an orange wine aged with fresh roasted coffee beans, Cocoa Beach, orange juice fermented with dark chocolate, and Grapefruit, rather like a Riesling with a citrus finish. The winery’s two top sellers are Mango Mamma and Hurricane Class 5 Florida Sangria. All of the wines taste just like the juices from which they are made.
Florida Wine as a Tourist Attraction
Wine in America actually began in Florida around 1565 when French settlers made wine from the native Muscadine grapes. As the wine industry grew, so too did the practice of visiting small wineries as a tourist attraction. Today, the online travel tool TripAdvisor ranks Panama City Beach Winery number one on their site in popularity for Panama City Beach attractions.
Altogether there are seven wineries in Northwest Florida, six of them located within an hour’s drive of each other. They are Panama City Beach Winery and Sea Breeze Winery in Panama City Beach, Emerald Coast Wine Cellar and Beyond the Grape in Destin, Chautauqua Vineyards in Defuniak Springs, and Three Oaks Winery in Vernon. The six wineries make a great wine tour.
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