Florida Wine Region

The US region with the Longest Winemaking History

Florida, which is lying in the southeastern part of the United States, is known to have the longest winemaking history in the whole North American Continent.

Here, the first wines were made as long as 300 years ago, that is, even before California has become a state.

With the history of winemaking history dating back to the 16th century, when the Spanish missionaries planted the wine grapes for the production of sacramental wines, the region is currently producing about 30 wines with the designation as Florida.

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Journey of Florida’s Winemaking Industry

Florida, which is bordered by Alabama, Georgia, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, is covering almost 170,000 square kilometres of land.

This state is hot and humid and therefore, is able to support viticulture.

As I mentioned earlier, the journey of winemaking in Florida started with the production of wines for religious ceremonies. But, due to the tropical climate conditions, as well as the vine diseases, the Vitis Vinifera didn’t grow well in the state.

It is due to this reason that the state didn’t enjoy a great success until a few years ago. During the year 1923, the Florida Grape Growers Association was formed and during the 1930s, the University of Florida started researching about the problem of vine cultivation in the state.

As a result of this research, they developed the thick-skinned hybrid varieties called Muscadine. This family of grapes is found to be native to the southeastern parts of the United States.

Eventually, these grapes were crossed with Vitis rotundifolia to get the disease-resistant varieties.
Following are the examples of those new hybrid varieties that were developed for the cultivation in Florida:

  • Stover
  • Blanc Du Bois
  • Swanee
  • Miss Blanc

Wines with tropical fruits

In the year 1991, the Florida Orange Groves Winery started producing wines using tropical fruits.
This attempt was successful and soon the state began to produce wines from the fruits like:

  • Mango
  • Key lime
  • Orange
  • Blueberry
  • Strawberry

Following these milestones, this winery is now experimenting with several other tropical fruits to produce wines.

Modern Wine Production in Florida

The current status of Florida is that it is having a rapidly-developing wine industry with the varieties like Blanc du Bois, Miss Blanc and Suwanee as the vines of choice.

These varieties are found to be providing a consistently increasing flow of wines to the tourists of Florida.

At present, the state has around 18 wineries, which are producing almost 1,946,162 gallons of wines every year. This makes up only up to 0.258% of the total wine production in the United States. It is to be noted that there are no designated American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in Florida.

A Quick Note at the Grape Varieties of Florida

Blanc du Bois

This hybrid wine grape variety, which was first created in the University of Florida, is used in making white wines. This was released for the commercial production during the year 1987 and since then, this grape variety has occupied almost 100 acres of vineyards in Florida. The wines that are made using this variety are crispier and fresher with floral citrus flavours.

Miss Blanc

This interspecific hybrid grape variety, which was created in Mississippi, is designed for growing in the warmer, high humidity areas. This grape variety is found to be giving higher yields with moderate acidity and sweet characters.

Muscadine

These, which are belonging to the sub-genus Muscadinia, are the hybrids of the following:

  • Vitis munsoniana
  • Vitis popenoei
  • Vitis rotundifolia

The most popular member of Muscadine family is the Scuppernong grape variety.

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Tharani Rajamanickam

Tharani Rajamanickam

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