HAWTHORNE, Fla. – Wine, is one of the most popular drinks around the world -- the drink is typically produced with grapes in Europe, South America and Napa Valley, California. Did you know the Sunshine State produces a wine that is not only tasty but also good for you?
Located in North Central Florida, Island Grove Wine company uses a variety of blueberries from their 700-acre farm to produce Moscato, Blueberry wine, Sangria and other fruit blends.
"This is the largest organic blueberry farm in the state," Sarah Aschliman, general manager of Island Grove said.
On 200-acres the farm produces organic blueberries, that are used for wine making. Rows and rows of blueberries span across Alachua, Putnam and Marion counties.
The farm has about 30 varieties of blueberries -- a fruit that is high in antioxidants.
“The wine actually keeps about 80 to 90 percent antioxidants from the fresh fruit into the blueberry wine. So our Kinda dry wine, our Sorta sweet wine and blueberry wine have so many antioxidants in them.” Aschliman said.
Her family started the wine business in the early 1990s.
“We have 16 different wines right now, we’re going to add another one next year, but right now, five to six of them at any given time have blueberries in it that were produced right here,” Aschliman said.
From blueberry wines and moscato, to fruit blends and red and white sangria, Island Grove Wine Company also offers tours to those who want an inside peak at the wine making process.
During the tour, guests will learn about the wine making process and how the company bottles their antioxidant rich wine.
“The wine comes out of the tanks right into a carousel and then the bottles go around and get filled,” Ashliman explained about the system used for bottling.
The machine can bottle 900 bottles an hour. The farm is also home to a four bedroom shotgun style house -- rich in Florida history that the owners wanted to preserve.
“It was so interesting and worth it, to have it here on property. It was built in 1897 by the Brown family. This property was homesteaded though right after the Civil War so it’s got a lot of history,” Aschliman said. “We use it for events, weekend getaways, we auction it off a lot for charity events.”
And just three miles from the blueberry farm is the farm’s tasting house. Located in the small town of Hawthorne -- the tasting room is where wine lovers can get a taste of their favorite wines and bring some home to share.
Island Grove Wine Company has another winery in Kissimmee where guests can enjoy wine tasting, food and music.