April 10, 2013

Keel & Curley Winery tour and tasting ... yum, wine


You may have gotten the idea that I love running. I also love wine (and dogs, baseball, purple, ‘90s rap, turtles, Elvis, Kansas State … but, let’s focus on the wine — those words are like ‘90s rap to my ears).

So when I got the opportunity to tour Keel & Curley Winery in Plant City, Florida, I said “YES” without hesitation.

Plant City is just east of Tampa and home to some serious agricultural production.


I met up with some other fabulous Tampa Bay blogging ladies (and guests) on Saturday afternoon. We hopped on a tractor-pulled tour wagon to check out the fields of blueberries and the winery. 

 


Blueberries?, you ask. Yep, blueberry wine.

Keel & Curley Winery began in spring 2003 when Joe Keel, a central Florida blueberry farmer wanted to find a use for his end-of-crop blueberries. When the market price reaches a price that is lower than harvest and sale commissions, farms stop harvesting their crops.
(Whoa. Seriously felt like I slipped back into my old job — editor of a Florida agriculture magazine — there.) Keel decided blueberry wine would be interesting to dabble in, and Keel & Curley wines were born. 
 
We got the inside scoop on the winery from our tour guide, Sam.


 

I thought it was pretty interesting that harvest to finished product takes only six weeks. No further aging is necessary for blueberry wine.


Yum, wine!
Chloe listened politely to the tour guide; Eric did not.
Just kidding.

After the tour, it was tasting time! We had the opportunity to try 12 wines.

Keel & Curley Winery produces three types of blueberry wines, all made from 100% blueberries. They also produce two blackberry wines, both made with 100% blackberries. In addition, Keel & Curley produces seven fusion wines (blended wines; part grape blended with fruit juices). 



I love the atmosphere at Keel & Curley. We sat out on a large patio area with a live band and an amazing view. 



My boyfriend and I came up with a rating system based on hearts (0 hearts = worst, 3 hearts = best) because wine is love.

Here are my verdicts. You may be able to determine my favorite.

Note: We did not try Wine Makers' Reserve. Apparently,
I was really enjoying the wine at this point, and I got
confused. I wrote "Entry error" and signed and dated it.
Apparently, this is the appropriate way to notate this,
according to my chemist boyfriend.

We all had a great time.


Me, Caroline, Caitlyn, Genna, Kat, Chrissy, Denise and Lisa

Here are the same folks, a little more contained.

Thanks for a more sophisticated photo, Caroline.

I loved visiting Keel & Curley. I love wine, but that's not all I loved. I love the atmosphere and that I can step into the country a few minutes from my city home.  

We had so much fun that we stayed into the night (Chloe insisted).


Keel & Curley has a Blueberry Festival each year to celebrate the blueberry harvest. This year it is April 27-28 on the Keel & Curley grounds. Come out to pick blueberries (while supplies last — an inside tip from our tour guide: arrive at 8 a.m. on April 27 to have a chance at the blueberries; they go fast), listen to entertainment, and check out more than 100 food and craft vendors. Oh, you can also try the wine ... my favorite part. 

Disclosure: I was invited to a complimentary tour and tasting at Keel & Curley Winery in exchange for helping to promote the Tampa Bay Blueberry Festival. All opinions are my own.

Are you a wine lover like me? Do you like dry or sweet wines? Have you ever been on a winery tour? Have you ever tried blueberry wine?

7 comments:

  1. Looks really cool! I've tried blueberry wine before and it was delicious, but super sweet and I prefer dryer wines. Ive never been on a tour before but I want to go on one.

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    1. I prefer drier wines, too! But, I really liked the semi-dry blueberry and the dry blackberry. You definitely need to do a tour!

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  2. It all looked yummy to me, lol. Maybe I need to go to the liquor store tonight...

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    1. I adore wine! I think you should!

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  3. Fun story... I used to not like wine. Then one day they were having a Keel & Curley wine teasting at our Publix and I tasted the Sweet Blueberry wine and LOVED it. I then realized I was not trying the right wines before and that led me to find my most favorite wine flavor, Moscato. So, I can thank Keel & Curley for many happy nights of wine, lol. I hope to make it out to the winery one day, it looks like fun.

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    1. You are forever indebted to Keel & Curley! I'm exactly the opposite. I tried sweet wines first, and I wasn't crazy about wine. After I tried a dry wine, I was in love. We can both be happy at Keel & Curley!

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