BREAKING NEWS: Uvaggio in Coral Gables is Closed for Good

One of South Florida’s best wine bars has closed its doors.

When I tried to visit Uvaggio on Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile last Wednesday, I found the doors closed (see the photo above) and the interior dark and empty. Managing Partner and sommelier Heath Porter confirmed to me today that it was gone for good.

“Sometimes it’s just business,” he said in an email.

Porter was also Managing Partner of No Name Chinese in South Miami, which closed in May.

He says he now plans to focus full time on his wine travel venture Heathen Wine Tours, which he launched last year.

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This Month in Edible Orlando: Six Orlando Wine Bars to Quench Your Thirst for Knowledge

Photo credit: AaronVan

My latest Edible Orlando wine column shines a spotlight on six locally-owned wine bars across the Orlando metro area that are dedicated to educating consumers, creating community, and raising the bar for Central Florida’s wine scene.

These are places I’ve written about individually, that feature regularly on the Calendar Page and in weekly events posts, and that are listed on the Orlando Wine Bar Guide page … but until now, I haven’t brought them all together in a feature post.

Edible Orlando‘s “Drinks Issue” gave me the excuse, not only to bring them together in print, but also to bring most of their proprietors together for a crazy, fun photo shoot. The results are this article and the great photo above, taken by local food photographer AaronVan.

With one exception, all of these wine bars are under five years old – a testament to just how much our wine scene has exploded in recent years. I expect a few more standouts to join them by this time next year.

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of wine establishments in Central Florida. Many more are included on the Wine Bar Guide, so be sure to check that out too. But if you’re visiting Orlando, new to the area, or just starting out on your wine journey, I promise you will not go wrong by starting with these six.

Cheers, Orlando!

New Events & Two New Places to Wine – The Imperial Winter Park & Eola General

It’s a great time to be a wine lover in the City Beautiful!

The number of wine-focused and wine-aware establishments just keeps growing (details on two brand new ones are below), as does the number of wine events popping up on the calendar. Because of this embarrassment of riches, you may notice a slight change in the level of detail on these regular posts. From now on, I’ll highlight a maximum of two events per day – but I’ll always let you know when there are more, and you can always find the full listing on the Wine Events page.

Without further ado, let’s get right to the highlights of …

ORLANDO’S WEEK IN WINE

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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.

 

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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