BREAKING NEWS: The Wine Barn in Winter Park Gets New Owners

UPDATED Feb. 20 with information on the new owners.

The Wine Barn on Fairbanks Ave. in Winter Park has been sold, but contrary to rumors, the bottle shop and pizza parlor is not closing its doors.

Former owner Andres Montoya says the new owners, Ramón & Veronica Llado, plan to keep the name and continue with the same concept, including the wood-fired pizzas and the rest of the food menu.

He says they’ve retained him as wine buyer and asked him to revamp the inventory.

“Expect in the next few weeks to find a re-energized wine selection, solid values and low prices,” he said in an email last night.

The Llados are a husband and wife team. Ramón hails from Catalunya, Spain and Veronica is from Ecuador, according to Montoya. He says this is their first restaurant venture in this country.

“While new to running a wine and food operation in the US, they have many years of experience in the building and construction industry,” Montoya said.

“As for me,” he went on, “I will forever remain committed to the wine industry, and look forward to … exploring, learning, buying and selling the beverage that we, as wine lovers, could never leave behind.”

More details will follow as they become available.

 

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Orlando Wine Blog’s first “Edible Orlando” column spotlights Central Florida’s natural wine scene

Starting this month, I’ll be writing a regular wine column for Edible Orlando, Central Florida’s quarterly magazine covering local food and drink.

When Managing Editor Pam Brandon told me about this issue’s theme, “Happy Healthy 2019,” she said she’d understand if I couldn’t fit wine under that umbrella. But I immediately thought it could be a great fit for a piece on natural wine (read it here!).

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Changes at Windermere’s Bella Tuscany may lead to a new wine destination in Winter Garden

Russ Russell has left his position as sommelier at Bella Tuscany in Windermere.

Known for hosting creative and sometimes extravagant weekly wine tastings paired with small plates, his last official day was December 8. He continued to host the tastings through December.

Taking over Russell’s position is Natasia Lin, a Certified Sommelier who was part of the team that opened Wine Bar George last May. Today was her first official day at the restaurant.

russ russell and natasia lin
Bella Tuscany’s incoming sommelier Natasia Lin with her predecessor, Russ Russell

She says she plans to continue Russell’s schedule of tastings, including this Tuesday’s event featuring wines from Argentina’s Catena family. As of this writing, it’s the only item of note on next week’s wine calendar, as most of Orlando’s wine purveyors continue their post-holiday lull.

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Luisa’s Cellar Celebrates Six Months of Wine (and much more!) in Sanford

Luisa’s Cellar calls itself “a wine bar with a craft beer problem.” Turns out, this two-story establishment on lively Sanford Avenue has a coffee problem too. And a bit of a cocktail dilemma. Plus a books and records conundrum.

Owners Yellymary “Mary” Montalvo and Sascha Weyer will mark half a year in business just after Christmas. The husband and wife team has gone all-out for the past six months with a diverse array of beverage and food offerings and an ambitious events schedule.

There’s a little something for everyone here, so this attractive spot just might be the perfect place to satisfy the eclectic tastes of all the friends and family visiting you this holiday season.

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Willamette’s Cristom Vineyards Picks Orlando’s Wine Bar George for Exclusive 25th Anniversary Tasting

I’ll admit I’ve always felt a twinge of sticker shock at the prices for the events and tastings at Wine Bar George. I know, I know, it’s at Disney Springs, and it’s helmed by a Master Sommelier. But still, it’s tough to part with $70-100+ for a tasting (plus a hefty Lyft fare), when standard tastings at most local wine establishments cost half that amount.

Earlier this month, however, Master Somm George Miliotes and his team invited me to attend an event as their guest, and I can tell you, this was no standard tasting.

Cristom Vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills region of Oregon’s Willamette Valley is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The festivities include a road show featuring an exclusive tasting with owner and winegrower Tom Gerrie comparing multiple vintages of the winery’s single vineyard pinot noirs.

When I say “multiple,” I mean we sampled nine pinot noirs from four single vineyards and six vintages.

When I say “exclusive,” I mean Cristom is presenting this tasting in only six cities around the country, including New York and San Francisco. Orlando was the only city in Florida to make the list.

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Walla Walla Wanderings: Beyond Downtown

Note: It is customary for wineries to waive tasting fees and host complimentary events for wine writers. Some wineries mentioned in this post extended that courtesy.

Last week, we toured tasting rooms in charming downtown Walla Walla, Washington. Turns out, there’s much more to this hub of Washington State winemaking than just the downtown core.

I was in the area last month to attend the 2018 Wine Bloggers Conference, and while I didn’t have much time to explore beyond downtown, I did venture out to a few special spots.

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Walla Walla Wanderings: Downtown

Note: It is common practice for wineries to waive tasting fees for wine writers. Some of the tasting rooms reviewed in this post extended that courtesy.

Washington’s wine regions sprawl widely across this diverse and beautiful state, but when it comes to wineries and tasting rooms, there are a few main centers of gravity.

Walla Walla is one of the biggest.

I just returned from my first trip to this small-town-turned-major-wine-destination. I was there to attend the 2018 Wine Bloggers Conference, but I spent some time checking out a few of the area’s 120 wineries too.

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