Off the beaten path

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy traveling and experiencing things that are different from your everyday norm. Trying new wines, new beers, new foods, or just seeing new places out of the realm of your everyday life is enticing. Whether it’s a trip to Europe, or just finding a hole in the wall on an aimless drive a few towns over, escaping the routine of everyday life is essential. But at what cost?


Let’s face it; our resources tend to be limited, but discovery doesn’t have to be in the form of fancy bottles or expensive trips abroad. They can happen right here in our backyard. One surprising trip I took recently was to Canada. I went to visit some friends for a few days and was shocked that I found a round trip ticket that was only a smidgen over $250! (Thankfully, there are affordable tickets out there during the times that the snow birds like to travel here).  I spent a day visiting a cluster of wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They even had a special winery passport on that allows visitors to sample certain wines from select wineries for a discount. I thought I was going to be overwhelmed with ice wine and fruit wine that Canada is known for, but I was pleasantly surprised to find different wines such as De Chaunac, Chancellor, Zweigelt, and Baco noir that I hadn’t experienced before. They also had off-dry Pinot Gris that was fantastic!

If traveling outside of the country is out of the question, there are plenty of options right here in the USA. Of course, many know of the Niagara and Finger Lakes AVAs of New York as well as the prestigious Napa and Sonoma AVAs in California. Lake County California, home to the Shannon Ridge Winery, is also a great option to experience California’s beauty at a fraction of the price (and traffic) of Napa and Sonoma. Additionally, Virginia and Texas have been making wine for quite some time, and are up-and-coming to the fine wine scene – which is really exciting!

FLWineIf you’re simply looking for a daily to-do, you can always visit the tasting room of a winery right here in the sunshine state. Local favorites specializing in fruit wines and wine grape/fruit blends are Keel and Curley Winery and Florida Orange Groves Winery. A relatively new and exciting experience offered by ABC is our $5 wine tasting tours which occur the last Thursday of every month in select ABC stores. These events offer guests the ability to travel the world through their palate trying wines they might not have otherwise noticed.

Nevertheless, whether it’s traveling the globe or investigating your own back yard, I encourage you to seek out new experiences and feed your adventurous side. Take a journey off of the beaten path and find the hidden gems a surprise destination has to offer. You never know where your curiosity might take you.

Janessa Schuster, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Celebration Specialist – Tampa

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