Sometimes a drive to a place is worth it and sometimes it is worth a repeat.
Not many people who live down here know about this, but occasionally you run into someone who has been there, and you always get the same reaction… “I Love that place!”
What am I talking about?
Schnebly Redland’s Winery, of course. This couple of hundred-acre winery and brewery sits in the heart of the Redlands (named after the dirt) in Homestead, Florida. Founded by Peter and Denisse Schnebly, this winery started when Peter realized that they were throwing away too much agriculture and his friend Bill Wagner, who was visiting at the time, fell in love with the lychee fruit.
An idea was born, why not make wine from the leftover fruits that didn’t pass inspection and were heading to the compost pile.
They hit a snag, turns out that because you cannot grow grapes agriculturally in South Florida, there are no wineries in Southern Florida. And a bunch of politicians wasn’t willing to take a gamble on a South Florida wine made from fruit grown in South Florida.
Wagner and Schnebly had a plan, take politicians to the New York Lake area, for a couple of days of classy wine tasting.
After convincing the politicians that if people were willing to drive 4 hours for a bunch of wineries, they would drive 1 hour for one. Schnebly Winery launched its first wine from a trailer on the side of the road, and the rest was history. Now 25 years later, the winery makes not only wine but also beer. And the amazing thing is not a single grape is hurt because the wine is made from strictly from Florida fruit. Avocados, lychees, carambola, mangos, and other homegrown fruit are fermented to make some great, wine.
So why drive almost 2 hours to the middle of nowhere a couple of times a year just to buy wine, especially since Total Wine and More carries it. To enjoy the winery, of course. The Schnebly did not only create good wine, brew some amazing coconut beer, and put the Redlands on the map; they also created a great spot to enjoy the Florida weather, eat some great local food, listen to music and just enjoy the day.
The winery is open seven days a week and has live music on Friday and Saturday night. Along with the restaurant and wine tasting area, in the back part of the winery is a bar that is home to the Miami Brewery Beer and the famous Big Rob Coconut Beer. The tap room is in a converted warehouse and has pool tables, cornhole sets, and live music.
You can also sample some of the other beers that are brewing behind the scenes or pick up your favorite one in a growler. And I have been told by self-proclaimed beer sommelier (my boyfriend) the only way to drink Big Rob’s is from either the tap or a growler.
In the wine tasting area, the bar was handcrafted and designed to allow the bartenders to reach up and grab the glass, symbolize the way the fruit is picked from the tree. The ceiling has a beautiful mural of a Royal Poinciana tree in full bloom.
Outside is a tropical oasis, complete with a Koi pond, an iguana, and waterfall. The restaurants serve a brunch on Saturday and Sundays, but you can bring your food. Wine can be purchased by the glass or if you are unsure about what to get, opt for the wine tasting. You will get a Schnebly glass.
At the beginning of April, a group of us went down to celebrate OJ’s birthday. Even though OJ and go at least a couple of times a year, it was a treat to introduce our friends to it. First time there, I would recommend doing both the wine and beer tours, because at the end of each tour, is a chance to taste the wine and beer.
The tour allows you not only to see how they make it, but it also gives you a sample of two different beers and a choice of 5 different wines.
At first, some of our friends were surprised that we choose to drive all the way out to this place, but it didn’t take them that long to start to enjoy the wine and the astrosphere.
The kids enjoyed playing on the open grounds, feeding the koi and just dancing to the music. While we hung out at the bar, they came up with their own game of corn horn.
If you are going to be in the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area and looking for a Florida experience, head to Schnebly Redland’s Winery and the Miami Brewing Company for the day. It is a chance to see the agriculture side of Florida and learn what exactly is a lychee and carambola are.