Is there any better way to kick off a weekend than with a good glass of wine? I don’t think so! On Saturday I made my way out to the Island Grove Wine Company Tasting House in Hawthorne, about 20 minutes south of Gainesville to try some of their delicious wines.
The Island Grove Wine Company is Florida-based and prides itself on using its fresh fruit to create exceptional wine. I first tried their wine at the Gateway City Craft Beer & Wine Festival in Lake City and immediately fell in love. So when I realized the tasting house was less than an hour away from where I live, I knew I had to check it out.
My friend Emily and I arrived at the Island Grove Tasting House around noon on Saturday and were captivated by the beautiful white building that looked like someone’s home. Its located along Highway 301, and there isn’t much else around the rural area. When I walked into the tasting house, the business was filled with locally-made items and of course, plenty of wine.
We sat at the tasting bar and were given a Sip & Note sheet with all the Island Grove wine names and descriptions listed out and space to take notes on which we like best. There were 16 wines available to taste, but I’m not a fan of dry wines so I tasted the 13 sweetest.
The wine tasting is free if you want to drink out of little plastic sample cups, or you can buy a glass engraved with the company’s logo for $5. I opted for the $5 glass because it was very tasteful and in my opinion totally worth the extra money.
We went all the way down the sampling list, starting with “Sorta Sweet Blueberry” and ending with “Sweet Winter Blue,” which is made from frozen grapes and blueberries and tastes like a boozy, blueberry syrup.
Lucky for me, Island Grove sells their wine out of a local grocery store in Lake City, so I’ve tried a few of their wines before, including “Southern Strawberry” and “Sunshine State White Sangria” (my favorite wine, which I wrote about here.) However, there were so many selections that I had never tried before, and I adored each and every one I tried.
A couple of my favorites were the “Tiki Tango Mango,” a seasonal wine made with fresh-cut mango and hits of pineapple and papaya, and the “Rustic Raspberry.” We were also given a sample of their “Cranberry Harvest” and “Crisp Green Apple” wines mixed together, and that combination was the perfect combination of tart and sweet.
After all the sampling, my winner was “Bold Blackberry.” This surprised me more than anyone, because I typically don’t like dark wines and tend to steer more towards the tropical-flavored blends. But Island Grove’s Bold Blackberry combines the medium dryness of a Merlot with sweet blackberries, cutting the dryness and creating a wine like nothing I’ve ever had before. I walked away with a bottle, but I could’ve bought a whole case.
After our wine sampling we walked around the store and were surprised to see there were plenty of other samplings being offered. There was jam tasting, salsa tasting, olive oil tasting and even a salad dressing tasting. I couldn’t stop eating the Island Grove Orange Poppy dressing, and bought a bottle for myself.
There was also wine paraphernalia, craft beers, Florida-themed products and more.
If you’re looking for someplace to eat or shop after a day of tasting wines, Micanopy is a great place to go. A small town just 10 minutes away, it has adorable antique stores and restaurants. While exploring some shops I found a couple great vintage Florida postcards.
If you’re looking to support a great Florida-based company, Island Grove Wine is one you should absolutely check out. You can also shop online!