I admit it – I am obsessed with wine.
My love affair for wine ignited literally only three years ago after stumbling into a wine tasting at Wine Barn’s old 33rd st. location. Today the fire burns fiercely, with an insatiable love of wine and determination that has steered me towards related topics such as geography, history, geology, chemistry, biology, anthropology. Sporting Certified Sommelier (CMS), WSET Level 3, & Italian Wine Ambassador (VinItaly) under my belt, I continue in pursuit of the mystical world of wine.
Exciting, Enthralling, Elegant…..no other beverage perhaps evokes as much emotion or stimulates cerebral excitement as wine. Whether you are an oenophile or a budding wino, here are fifteen retail stores/bar in Central Florida exclusively dedicated to all things grape in no random order.
Tim’s Wine Market – With multiple stores in Central Florida – Orange Avenue, Sanford, Windemere, St. Augustine, & Ponte Vedra – Tim’s Wine Market is an independent wine merchant with a selection that can be easily considered best, both in terms of absolute quality and bang for the buck be it a $8 or $80 bottle.
I may be over simplifying, when I bestow the placard of being the most knowledgeable wine expert in Florida. Tim constantly inspires through his passionate reflections on wines and vignerons. Eager to share and spread the gospel of wine , Tim demystifies wine intricately with his monthly wine classes for people of all levels of wine knowledge.
1223 North Orange Ave Orlando, FL 32804. 407-895-9463 – Tim’s Wine Market
The Wine Barn – My initiation into wine immersion commenced at Wine Barn’s old location on 33rd st. with Thursday tastings; a ritual Andres Montoya (UC Davis wine-making graduate) thankfully has carried over to his now bustling Winter Park location. Featuring thoughtfully chosen wines from both the old and new world, the Wine Barn is an ideal place for budding wine wannabes and experienced drinkers to enjoy a bottle or two on a satiated belly.
959 West Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park, Fl, 32789. Phone: 407-599-9463 – The Wine Barn
Ellen’s Wine Room – Forged with a necessity to fill the gaping void of Wine Warehouse shutting it’s doors, Ms. Hartman opened Ellen’s Wine Room in Sanford’s historic district. Quickly becoming the local stomping ground for wine aficionados, Ellen’s Wine Room is a charming wine bar to relax and enjoy “reasonably priced ” wines and imported beers with your family and friends. PS: Be sure to check out Tuesday Wine Swap or Thursday themed tasting, where $15-20 per person will fetch you a three-course home cooked meal and some good old grape juice, aka wine.
440 S. Sanford Avenue, Sanford, FL 32771. Phone 407-936-1705 – Ellen’s Wine Room
Swirlery – Like a lot of people in and outside the restaurant business, Certified Sommelier Melissa McAvoy, has long harbored owning her own place—specifically, a wine shop and tasting room. Finally late 2015, she brought her bold dream to life with Swirley, a neighborhood wine bar worth seeking out on Michigan Avenue. Whether it is Blind Tasting Tuesdays, Movie Night w/Wine & Popcorn, or Thursday Somm Sessions, Melissa has single-handedly united the community of Orlando with her love affair of all things wine. So if you are looking to hone in on your tasting skills or learn through osmosis, Swirley on any given evening is buzzing with CFL’s uprising sommeliers and industry professionals.
The Wine Room – A treasure trove of fine and rare wines stocking over 156 hand-selected wines sampled by 1oz, 2.5oz or 5oz pour sizes on state-of-the-art Enomatic wine dispensing machines, and a library vault. Literally a wine lovers candy shop also serves a wide array of artisan cheeses and tapas-style menu. It’s a place for adults of any age to truly enjoy themselves immersed in all things wine. And if you so feel the desire to elevate your grape repertoire, ask for Mr. Kevin, the most charming walking wine encyclopedia.
Wine Room also host some of the finest wine events in O-town including themed tastings with wine makers and ambassadors in their elusive wine vault.
407-696-9463 / 270 South Park Avenue / Winter Park, FL 32789 – The Wine Room
The Parkview – Proprietor Matt Coltrin’s vision of The Parkview is a home away from home. Proudly boasting a killer chef, thoughtful service, great drinks, affordable prices, and a super chill vibe, its the kind of every day late night or lunch hang out that every part of town needs. The Parkview is the kind of place, where you stroll in for a pint of beer or a flight of sparkling wine, and end up staying for dinner.
Eola Wine Company – Focusing on small production and boutique wineries, Eola Wine Company offers over 50 wines by the glass, an extensive reserve list, and more than 100 retail selections, conveniently located off the gorgeous Lake Eola downtown Orlando.
430 E. Central Blvd / Orlando, FL 32801 / 407.481.9100 – Eola Wine Company
Vines Wine Shop – Whether you are stopping by for a bottle of wine to serve with dinner, planning an event, or looking for a place to unwind, Vines Wine and Spirits is my to go wine stop on the restaurant row of Dr. Philips. Especially the last Friday of each month, where you can taste just about all major/classic wine regions of the world for a nominal fee.
7585 West Sand Lake Rd, Orlando FL 32819. T. 407-286-2935 – Vines Wine Shop
BevFly Wine & Spirits – With Kimberly Kolovos Sommelier, Mixologist, and Owner at helm alongside Gary Tupper (Business Development Manager), BevFly offers a well-curated selection of over 1000 wines, quality spirits, craft beers as well as gourmet cheeses and charcuterie. With exclusive membership deals, event opportunities and personal consultations, Bevfly proudly caters to all your wino needs.
407.826.1542. 5425 International Dr. Orlando, FL 32819 – BevFly Wine & Spirits
Somm -Orlando’s newest Sommelier driven wine bar riding on coattails of box-office hit Somm movie sits under the 400-foot Orlando Eye, located on the epicenter of tourism – I Drive. SOMM offers a curated selection of boutique and fine wines developed by Advanced Sommelier Leslie Johnson, as well as an offering of craft beers and artisanal sodas.
Cavanaugh’s Fine Wine – tucked away in College Park, Cavanaugh’s is a hidden gem with an indoor and outdoor garden seating offering unique selection and prices, including rare older vintages and large format bottles.
Cooper’s Hawk Winery – boasting the largest Wine of the Club month in the country, Cooper’s Hawk & Restaurant offers two locations in Central Florida to enjoy a selection of dishes designed to pair perfectly with Cooper’s Hawk own wines, ranging from bubbles, crisp to oaky whites to bold reds.
8005 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819. 407.956.3400 – Cooper’s Hawk Winery
Quantum Leap Winery – Located in the Lake Ivanhoe district, at this urban winery you can sip on sustainably grown wine that’s transported to Quantum to be finished, blended, and packaged.
Imperial Wine Bar & Beer Garden – An eclectic furniture store by day and neighborhood watering hole by evening specializing in boutique wines, craft beers and classic cocktails.
Vintage Vino – Downtown Kissimmee’s hottest wine bar – carries over 350 different wines and beers with emphasis on themed tastings.
14 E Dakin Avenue, Kissimmee, FL 34741. 917-627-8432 – Vintage Vino
Cork & Olive and Vineyard Wine Company in Lake Mary, Wine Styles Baldwin Park, Grape Expectations in Winter Haven, Elusive Grape in Deland, Maggie’s Attic and Wine Den in Mt. Dora, Lake Ridge Winery and Bacchus in Clermont to name a few in Central Florida.
Orlando has lived under the shadows of Disney/Universal earning a reputation for uncomplicated and worse unhealthy food destination. Thanks to a recent surge in farm to table restaurants, sustainable food movement, tastings and events Otown’s food-and-beverage scene has been revived and is more attractive than ever.
As Otown’s dining scene continues to become more dynamic, a few dedicated and highly conversant men/ladies from the wine industry are silently building a wine scene pushing Orlando towards a world class wine destination and they need your help.
Do yourself a favor, do Orlando a favor, get a group of like-minded people that are thirsty for knowledge. The only way to get acquainted with your taste buds is to drink more wine! Tasting is the only way you are going to understand it better.
Armed with an open mind and an empty glass, embrace the ever changing magical world of wine. These local wine shops offer plenty of options to gratify your palates and in the process learn something new about the sheer joy of wine.