Magic Hosts First Orlando Wine Festival; Lots of Events Coming Up This Week

This weekend was a big one for Orlando’s wine scene, with the inaugural Orlando Wine Festival on Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes. The Orlando Magic organized the event and invited me to attend the al fresco grand tasting.

It featured mostly Napa wines, and while those big reds were a little challenging to drink outside on a warm day, it was worth it to taste some of the classic wines on hand – Dunn and Heitz were among the biggest names. I also enjoyed making a few new discoveries, including one of Argentina’s first GSM Rhone-style blends from Corazon del Sol, a project of Napa’s Revana Family Vineyard. All the winery representatives were lovely and informative too.

My only regret is that the festival’s high price tag (the cheapest package was $2500 per couple) kept many members of Orlando’s robust and active community of wine lovers away. Of course, the Magic sees the event primarily as a fundraiser for its Youth Foundation, but it would be nice if the team could find a way to make it more accessible to Orlando oenophiles who regularly support local wine establishments.

There are plenty of wine events coming up this week with significantly lower barriers to entry, though. Read on for the highlights.

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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.

 

British Bubbles, a Whole Lotta Napa, and a Feast on a Farm

There’s a lot for Orlando wine lovers to get excited about in the coming week. We have a few more winery visitors in town, including Lisa Broman of Napa’s Broman Cellars – she’s doing three events in as many days at Luisa’s Cellar, Regency Wine & Liquor, and Tim’s Lake Mary-Sanford, respectively. Plus, an event this weekend offers the opportunity to sample food from Disney restaurants paired with wines chosen by a Master Sommelier … on a farm!

Read on for more highlights.

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Celebrate Your Love of Wine with Valentine’s Events

Ah, Valentine’s Day. Or, as it could be known, the day of the prix fixe.

Orlando’s wine events calendar is a little lighter this week, as local vino-focused establishments make way for the crowds of couples dining out on Thursday. But many are also planning V-Day themed tastings, so get ready to fall in love with wine – especially bubbles and reds – all over again.

Keep reading for all the highlights!

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Orlando’s Parade of Winemakers Continues

UPDATE: Thursday’s tasting with Daniel Cohn of Bellacosa Winery at Tim’s Lake Mary has been cancelled. 

‘Tis the season for winemakers and other visitors from wineries around the world to show off the fruits of their labors to Florida’s wine lovers. Franco Massolino (pictured above) visited from Barolo a couple of weeks ago and presented his lovely wines at Digress in College Park.

Last week, we had three more winery visitors at events around town; this week we’ll have six! And they’ll have competition from a plethora of other wine events on tap too.

Once again, you have some tough decisions to make, so pour yourself a glass of Sunday Champagne (they say it’s good for your brain), put your thinking cap on, and feast your eyes on the smorgasbord that is …

ORLANDO’S WEEK IN WINE!

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