“It is the wine that leads me on, the wild wine that sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs, laugh like a fool – it drives the man to dancing… it even tempts him to blurt out stories better never told.”Homer, The Odyssey
There is a hidden secret in Miami that most people don’t know about. An hour and a half from my house, down a red dirt road, sits…A Winery!
Not many people in Florida know about this, but occasionally you run into someone who has been there, and you always get the same reaction… “I Love that place!”
What is this secret hideaway; Schnebly Redland’s Winery and the Miami Brewery Company, of course.
This winery and brewery are located in the heart of the Redlands (named after the dirt) in Homestead, Florida. Founded by Peter and Denisse Schnebly, this winery started when Peter realized that his produce company was throwing away too much agriculture. He wanted to use the ‘unsellable produce’ to turn a profit.
It wasn’t until a friend named Bill Wagner visited Peter in 2003, that he found a solution. You see, Bill fell in love with the lychee fruit. Bill, who owned Wagner Winery in Lodi, New York, decided that the lychee would make an exemptional wine.
An idea was born, why not make wine from the leftover fruits that didn’t pass inspection and were heading to the compost pile.
They hit a snag; it turns out that because you cannot grow grapes agriculturally in South Florida, there are no wineries in Miami-Dade County. A bunch of politicians weren’t willing to take a gamble on a South Florida wine made from fruit grown in South Florida.
Wagner and Schnebly had a plan, take those politicians to the New York Lake area for a couple of days of classy wine tasting. They got those politicians drunk.
After convincing the politicians that if people were willing to drive 4 hours for a bunch of wineries, they would drive 1 hour for one. Schnebly Winery launched its first wine from a trailer on the side of the road, and the rest was history. Now years later, the winery makes not only wine but also beer. The amazing thing is that not a single grape is hurt because the wine is made from Florida fruit. Avocados, lychees, carambola, mangos, and other homegrown fruit are fermented to make great wine.
So why drive almost 2 hours to the middle of nowhere a couple of times a year to buy wine, especially since Total Wine and More carries it. To enjoy the winery, of course. The Schneblys did not only create good wine, brew some fantastic coconut beer, and put the Redlands on the map; they also made a great spot to enjoy the Florida weather, eat some great local food, listen to music, and enjoy the day.
The winery is open seven days a week and has live music on Fridays and Saturday nights. Along with the restaurant and wine tasting area, in the back part of the winery is a bar home to the Miami Brewery and the famous Big Rob’s Coconut Beer. The taproom is in a converted warehouse and has pool tables, cornhole sets, and live music.
You can also sample some of the other beers brewing behind the scenes or pick up your favorite one in a growler. And I have been told by a self-proclaimed beer sommelier (my boyfriend) the only way to drink Big Rob’s is from either the tap or a growler.
In the wine tasting area, the bar was handcrafted and designed to allow the bartenders to reach up and grab the glass, symbolizing the way the fruit is picked from the tree. The ceiling has a beautiful mural of a Royal Poinciana tree in full bloom.
Outside is a tropical oasis, complete with a Koi pond, iguanas, and a waterfall. The restaurants serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, but you can bring your food. Wine can be purchased by the glass, or if you are unsure about what to get, opt for the wine tasting. You will get a Schnebly glass with the tasting.
I took a whole group down there in April of 2019 to celebrate a birthday. I usually go down there a couple of times a year, but this was the first time I had taken the trip with these people.
First time there, I would recommend doing both the wine and beer tours, because at the end of each tour, is a chance to taste the wine and beer.
The tour allows you not only to see how they make it, but it also gives you a sample of two different beers and a choice of 5 different wines.
At first, some of our friends were surprised that we chose to drive all the way out to this place, but it didn’t take them that long to start to enjoy the wine and the astrosphere.
The kids enjoyed playing on the open grounds, feeding the koi, and just dancing to the music. While we hung out at the bar, the kids came up with their own game of cornhole.
If you are going to be in the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area and looking for a Florida experience, head to Schnebly Redland’s Winery and the Miami Brewing Company for the day. It is a chance to see the agricultural side of Florida and learn what exactly is a lychee and a carambola are worth the trip.
And don’t forget to pick up a bottle of Cat 3; it will blow you away.