If you’ve been an Orlando oenophile for any significant period of time, you’ve probably been to a Tim’s Wine Market.
Tim Varan is a cornerstone of Central Florida’s wine community. Since he opened his original bottle shop on Orange Avenue across from Lake Ivanhoe almost thirteen years ago, his empire has grown to six stores sprinkled around Central and North Florida.
Over the past few years, I’ve heard Tim hint at his desire to sell wine by the glass, but nothing came of it … until this spring.
George Miliotes hasn’t been spending much time at his home in Orlando’s College Park neighborhood recently.
The Master Sommelier told me he’s been sleeping at the Lake Buena Vista Hilton since last Saturday, the day his eponymous wine bar opened for business across the street at Disney Springs.
Actually, he says he hasn’t done much sleeping, what with the 17 hour days he’s been working to get the long-awaited Wine Bar George up and running.
Tips for First Timers
My husband and I dodged the raindrops last Sunday afternoon to visit the establishment on its first full day of operation (Saturday’s opening started at 5pm). Bottom line, this place is deliciously dangerous for wine geeks. If you are one, here are a few quick tips to make the most out of your experience:
Wine Bar George today confirmed what Orlando Wine Blog first reported a week ago — the long-awaited – and long-delayed – Disney Springs establishment will open this Saturday, May 19 with its full wine list and food menu ready to go. Doors will open at 5pm; regular opening hours (11am-2am) will kick off the following day.
The venue will be helmed by Master Sommelier and Disney alum George Miliotes. Back in the mid-90s, he helped open Disney’s California Grill; he returns to WDW with his eponymous wine bar, boasting what quite probably will be the most extensive by-the-glass wine list in metro Orlando.
The bar-restaurant will offer more than 130 eclectic selections by the glass, representing over 40 grape varietals. Of those, thirty are high-end, rare, and vintage wines that will be available in one- and three-ounce pours too.
Glass prices range from $8 … to $500. Yes, you read that right. If you’re so inclined, you can pay $500 for a glass (or $84 for an ounce) of 1988 Chateau Margaux from Bordeaux. Most offerings, however, hover around the mid-high teens.
Appealing to Disparate Audiences
Miliotes had a fine line to walk when he created this list. He had to satisfy the tourists who’ll stumble in with screaming kids in tow, as well as the oenophiles, wine collectors, and wine industry folks for whom the establishment – Florida’s only Master Somm-led wine bar – will be a destination.
For those of you eagerly awaiting the delayed opening of Wine Bar George at Disney Springs, an anonymous source tells Orlando Wine Blog that the tentative opening date is a week from Saturday – May 19 – pending approval from Disney inspectors.
The establishment, helmed by Master Sommelier George Miliotes, will feature 140 wines by the glass (everything from obscure varietals to Caymus), flights, small plates, and more. Stay tuned.
Forget worrying about what wine pairs with fish or steak. Digress Wine in College Park is asking deeper questions:
What wine pairs with … a hard day at work?
A quiet evening by yourself?
Catching up with old friends?
A geek-out session with your wine buddies?
A first date – or a fifth?
Former wine sales reps Brian Kerney and Rob Chase are in the process of transitioning the store, which they purchased last fall, into a combination wine bar and retail shop with a concept they hope will change the way Orlando thinks about wine.
It still says “WineStyles” on the sign above the door, but the space on New Broad Street in the center of Baldwin Park has re-launched as Vintages, an independent wine bar and shop. The store dropped its affiliation with the Iowa-based wine bar chain at the end of last year.
There’s a new owner, but manager Robby Burroughs is staying on as wine-guy-in-chief. He plans to transition the space into a serious wine establishment that reflects Orlando wine consumers’ evolving tastes and growing sophistication.
After a three-week holiday lull, Orlando’s wine scene will roar back to life in the coming days. There are more than a dozen high quality tastings, classes, and dinners to choose from in the coming week, including several that feature winemakers or winery owners.
Unfortunately, you can’t go to all or even most of these events. That’s because more than a third of them are happening at exactly the same time.
Now, I know nobody needs to go to a dozen wine events in one week, and I know some overlap is unavoidable, and I know the winemaker events have to capitalize on the headliners’ existing schedules. But I do sometimes wish for a bit more coordination.
Central Florida’s wine scene is vibrant and passionate, but we’re not New York or San Francisco. We count our quality wine establishments in tens, not hundreds. Many area wine enthusiasts are eager to support as many of those establishments as our calendars, wallets, and livers will allow. That’s tough to do when schedules collide as often as they do.
Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now and move on to what you really want to know about – the highlights of this crazy week!