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San Sebastian Winery – St Augustine
OK… so you’ve had a couple of days to enjoy the stunning architecture of St Augustine, together with its wonderful old buildings and Spanish fortifications. You’ve also had the opportunity to take one of the numerous trolley tours or ghost walks and will no doubt feel like a fully qualified historian on the English, French and Spanish influences upon the city over the last three hundred years.
So moving forward into the late twentieth century can make a welcome change.
From the Lightner Museum a fifteen-minute stroll, west along King Street brings the visitor to the San Sebastian winery, recently established in 1996, and is located next door to the Police Station. The entrance is not particularly obvious at first glance but eventually we found it towards the rear of the building.
The doorway opens into a large retail area selling just about every wine accessory and gadget you could possibly imagine, and beyond, toward the rear of the room is the wine-tasting area. Well-informed staff are on hand to provide advice and guidance on all things wine related, and we found it an enjoyable experience browsing through the shop picking up some really unusual gifts, which helped complete our Christmas present list. However, prepare, for some interruption because the winery is on the some of the trolley routes and up to a hundred tourists could crowd in at any time.
There is no need to book in advance for the winery tour and tasting sessions as they are ongoing throughout the day, and it is unlikely you would have to wait more than twenty minutes.
The tour of the winery is extremely informative and takes in all aspects of the wine making process from grape delivery from their vineyards in Tallahassee and Clermont, where their sister company Lakeridge is based, right through to bottling and packaging.
Then with some appreciation of the grape varieties available in Florida, and a level understanding of the need for the winery to contract with other growers to provide the balance of grapes needed to produce both dry and sweet wines, it is time for the tasting session. This is a real social event shared with twenty or so strangers, and before the tasting begins your host will explain why the size of glass, swirling the wine, and the bouquet are all important features of the tasting process.
With this new found knowledge the tasting session becomes an extremely enjoyable occasion, and each wine can be scored according to personal taste on the cards provided by the winery.
The San Sebastian winery supplies a few local retailers but sells mainly through its online operation…. . but if you like what’s on offer why not pick up a case or two before you leave.
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