Episode 35: One Year Later

Exactly one year ago, UnWineding launched amid the chaos of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions that sent the hospitality industry into a tailspin. Season One of the podcast followed three Florida wine industry professionals through six tumultuous months of the pandemic, as they watched their businesses suffer and their bank accounts dwindle. In this episode, we check in with them again, as vaccinations are on the rise and things are finally looking brighter. Listen as they tell us about their ups and downs, milestones, accolades, and even some big plans on the horizon.

Orlando composer Julian Bond provided original music for UnWineding. 90.7 WMFE provides distribution and promotional assistance. Subscribe to UnWineding on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

Swirlery Wine Bar plans beachside location

After more than five years in Orlando’s SoDo District, Swirlery Wine Bar is looking to expand eastward.

“If you know me, you might know that I’m a water baby,” says co-owner and Advanced Sommelier Melissa McAvoy, who says she’s been thinking about a coastal presence for some time.

She says she’s actively looking for locations in New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach that could host a wine shop / wine bar hybrid similar to Swirlery’s SoDo setup.

McAvoy broke the news today in an interview for the one-year anniversary episode of the UnWineding podcast, which debuts later this week.

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Episode 34: Nga Ly-Henschen

Growing up in a Vietnamese-American family, Nga Ly-Henschen was never exposed to wine. She moved to Orlando to study microbiology at the University of Central Florida, with an eye on a future medical career. But a glass of riesling on a blind date at one of the city’s early wine hubs changed everything. Fast forward a decade and a half, and Nga is now the General Manager of Capa Restaurant and Lounge on the top floor of the Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World. She talks about her journey into the wine world, her transition to a corporate life of working with high-end wines, Capa’s COVID-19 shutdown and reopening, and her dreams for the future.
Orlando composer Julian Bond provided original music for UnWineding. 90.7 WMFE provides distribution and promotional assistance. Subscribe to UnWineding on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and Stitcher.

Episode 33: Mary Elizabeth Howe

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Mary Elizabeth Howe was just 30 years old when she became North Florida area manager for Augustan Wine Imports, which she describes as the “nerdy fine wine team” for a larger distributor, Breakthru Beverage. That management position was just one in a string of challenges throughout her career that have pushed her outside her comfort zone, starting when she was thrust into the world of fine dining service in her home state of Mississippi. Her latest trial was a four month furlough from the job she loved at Augustan at the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns. She likens the experience to the breakup of a family. But Mary Elizabeth is ever the optimist, and she says even those dark days provided opportunities for growth. 

Orlando composer Julian Bond provided original music for UnWineding. 90.7 WMFE provides distribution and promotional assistance.

Episode 32: Tim Varan

By his own admission, Tim Varan was “an apathetic and disinterested college student” when he was studying finance at the University of Central Florida some 30 years ago. But when it comes to wine, his cup overflows with enthusiasm and passion. Tim caught the wine bug while working for some of Orlando’s early wine pioneers in the late 1980s. He soon went into business for himself, and his eponymous shop, Tim’s Wine Market near downtown Orlando, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. 

Tim shares stories about the early days of Orlando’s wine community, the challenge of resisting the siren song of mass market wines to stay true to his mission, takeaways from the COVID-19 pandemic, and his surprisingly rosy prediction for the pandemic’s potential impact on Central Florida’s wine industry. 

Tim Varan, owner of Tim’s Wine Market in Orlando, presents a seminar on white Burgundy in July 2019.

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Orlando composer Julian Bond provided original music for UnWineding.
90.7 WMFE provides distribution and promotional assistance.

Episode 31: Mary Montalvo

Mary Montalvo and her husband Sascha Weyer own and operate Luisa’s Cellar in Sanford, Florida. They got into the wine business almost by accident when Mary fell in love with a property in Clermont in 2012 and decided to open a wine bar. She left a stable career in the legal profession and threw herself into the business, but she says it’s been tough to keep her passion for wine alive amid the many challenges she has faced along the way.

In this episode, Mary talks about her journey from Puerto Rico to Florida (via Germany), speaks candidly about the realities of being a woman of color in an industry dominated by white men, and shares how she and her business are getting by as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.

Mary Montalvo, Co-owner of Luisa’s Cellar in Sanford, FL

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Thanks to Orlando composer Julian Bond for providing original music for UnWineding and WMFE for distribution and promotional assistance.

Episode 30: Matt Coltrin

Season Two of UnWineding kicks off with a conversation with Matt Coltrin, owner of The Parkview wine bar and restaurant in Winter Park, just north of Orlando.

Matt talks about the generous French wine merchant who got him hooked on good wine, his experience running a wine program at a historic bar and restaurant in Manhattan, and how the September 11th terrorist attacks prompted him to move to Central Florida, where he found himself on the ground floor of the region’s wine renaissance. He also talks about surviving and learning from this pandemic year, which he calls the hardest thing he’s had to deal with in his 25 years in the wine and restaurant business.

Matt Coltrin, owner of The Parkview in Winter Park, FL

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Thanks to Orlando composer Julian Bond for providing original music for UnWineding and WMFE for distribution and promotional assistance.

Season 2: A New Beginning

UnWineding is back starting next week!

Listen to this quick preview to find out what Season Two has to offer. Plus, learn how the Orange County Regional History Center is helping to preserve Season One of UnWineding for future generations.

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Thanks to Orlando composer Julian Bond for providing original music for UnWineding, Amy Tardif for editorial assistance, and WMFE for distribution and promotional assistance.

Episode 29: Not Quite The End

On March 25, 2020, UnWineding began following three wine industry professionals in the hospitality capital of Orlando, Florida. Like many of their peers, the COVID-19 pandemic had turned their professional and personal lives upside down. Bars, restaurants, hotels, and theme parks had shut down in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Six months later, Florida’s governor announced bars and restaurants could reopen completely. The pandemic is by no means over, but in this episode, we close Season 1 of the podcast with a look back at what the past six months have meant to our guests.

Season 2 will cast a wider net across Central Florida’s wine community. Follow Orlando Wine Blog on Facebook and Instagram @orlandowineblog for details.

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Thanks to Orlando composer Julian Bond for providing original music for UnWineding, Amy Tardif for editorial guidance, and WMFE for distribution and promotional assistance.

Episode 28: Light at the End of the Tunnel

In a move that took many Floridians by surprise, Governor Ron DeSantis has moved the state to Phase 3 of its reopening plan. Most businesses were allowed to reopen at full capacity less than two weeks after bars emerged from a months-long total ban on alcohol service. Not long after the governor’s move, Disney announced it would lay off 28,000 employees, including at least 6,700 at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

Episode 28 was going to be the final episode of UnWineding Season 1, but events have overtaken those plans. The final episode is still in the works, however, and it will premiere on October 8th at 6:30pm Eastern Time at a virtual listening party and wine tasting hosted by Orlando Wine Blog, Swirlery Wine Bar, Digress Wine, and 90.7 WMFE

We’ll taste and talk about some fun and unusual wines, which are available for pickup now at Swirlery and Digress. Then, we’ll unveil the final episode and look back at the past six months of the podcast in a conversation moderated by WMFE’s Brendan Byrne. All profits will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, and you can join from anywhere in the world!

You’ll find all the details here and registration links here.

Subscribe to UnWineding on iTunesSpotifyGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

Thanks to Orlando composer Julian Bond for providing original music for UnWineding, Amy Tardif for editorial guidance, and WMFE for distribution and promotional assistance.