Florida Wine Tour: Royal Manor Vineyard & Winery
My mission has begun! I’m on a mission to visit all wineries/vineyards in the state of Florida. There’s a sign I’ve passed hundreds of times on I-95 that says “Try Florida Wines”. I’ve never paid much attention to the sign until now. Isn’t it interesting how your point-of-view changes with whatever is going on in your life at that time? I think so!
The website Try Florida Wine let’s you in on the secret of all the wineries the sunshine state can boast about. How many? 24!
How long will it take to visit each? I’m not sure but I’m willing to give it a try.
Sweeter wines are the thing for Florida so if that’s your preference, Florida really is the perfect place to visit and go on a winery tour through the state. I’ve mentioned before that sweeter wines are really not for me but I’m willing to try anything. I also don’t judge the wine based on the fact that I’m not crazy about a sweet wine. Regardless of my preference I believe all wine has something to offer and you may just discover something new.
My first stop is Royal Manor Vineyard and Winery.
I had no idea the day I planned to visit was going to be a rainy mess of a day. I thought about pushing my venture back but a good friend encouraged me to go. I’m so glad I did!
If you decide to visit, don’t get discouraged. Royal Manor is on a rough, dirt road in Interlachen, FL. I almost turned around a few times because my thought was, “there’s no way a vineyard is back here”. But, the signs were pointing me in the right direction and I got there slowly but surely.
When I arrived I saw the “open” sign in the window but was still a little skeptical because it didn’t look like much was going on. I got to the door and sure enough it was locked. I used the phone and phone numbers (great idea!) on the door to verify they were indeed open. As soon as I did, a white truck pulled up. I explained to Mr. Joe Pasco why I was there and he invited me in.
After chatting a bit I got to tasting!
The first, Sir Carlos Wine. Carlos is a muscadine grape. I expected very sweet and syrupy. Far from true. It’s really a semi-sweet wine. After that I tried Royal Blush (this is a blend, not bad), Strawberry (my personal favorite), Plum (unexpected) and Blackberry AKA Sir Dud (the taste changes on the back of your tongue) wines along with a hard cider, Raspberry to be specific. Yes, in addition to wine they offer hard cider too.
If you know me you know strawberry is my favorite fruit. I appreciate Mr. Pasco’s words when he says, “I want my flavors to be real”. Pasco says he uses Plant City, FL strawberries and even if someone offers to sell him an artificial flavor that tastes better than the real thing, he can’t do it. He told me he’s “by no means organic” but you can expect his product to be “natural”.
I can appreciate that, can’t you?
A little history
Royal Manor Vineyard and Winery is owned by Joe and Wanda Pasco. Wanda has been around wine a little longer because her dad used to make it. Joe was a beer maker before he tried his hand at wine. He won awards right away! He says his wife told him she didn’t like beer so he decided to make a change. Sounds like a wise man to me!
Royal Manor boasts 30 different flavors of wine, hard cider and mead.
Oh! Did I forget to mention the mead? If you’re anything like me, you’re wondering what in the world is mead? Mead is fermented honey and water. Sounds odd, right? According to Mr. Pasco it’s the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world. I tried the Traditional Mead. How does it taste? Clean. It’s smooth and refreshing but not as refreshing as cider. The mead is made only with Florida honey. Pasco says mead is growing and it’s something they got into early.
Royal Manor grapes get picked in August for the most part but sometimes it happens in September. The winter of 2017 into 2018 didn’t affect the grapes.
Royal Manor has been around since 2009. There are 8 acres of fruit which includes 5 acres of grapes and 3 acres of blueberries. Royal Manor also has a small persimmon orchard.
You can find Joe and Wanda at local fairs and shows. He says he goes through 15 cases of wine at fairs but that’s to be expected because you really can’t sell wine without tasting it. Ain’t that the truth!
What you can expect
Each fruit flavored wine smells and tastes exactly like the fruit it’s named for. The tasting glasses are small (but aren’t they all) but still put your nose in there and smell the fruit. How many times have you bought a candle to get that fruity smell in the house? Scratch that! Open a bottle of Royal Manor wine, let the aroma fill the air and then pour yourself a glass.
The strawberry had me at “hello” so I decided to bring it home. I also bought the the watermelon cider. I’ve been on this watermelon kick lately and my thought was, if I like the raspberry even though I’m not a fan of raspberry I’m sure to love the watermelon.
How Sir Dud blackberry got it’s name
If you’re still on the fence about whether to buy from Royal Manor, then check this out. I asked Joe Pasco why he calls the blackberry wine, Sir Dud. He told me a story about his friend. His friend’s name was Dud. He said Dud was a contractor with a generous spirit and golden heart. Pasco described Dud as a big guy. One day he told his friend that he was concerned about his health. His friend told him he was living his life and he was happy. Shortly after that, he got a phone call that his friend had passed away.
The winery hadn’t opened yet but they were in the process of getting things done. Mr. Pasco says he wanted a wine to be named after his generous friend with the golden heart. Pasco chose the blackberry wine. The blackberries are from Washington. On the side of the bottle it says “This Premium Royal Manor wine is made with sweet ripe blackberries with a flavor as big and bold as Sir Dud’s heart”.
When you visit be sure to try Sir Dud!
Overall I really enjoyed my visit with Mr. Joe Pasco at Royal Manor Vineyard and Winery. His love for his work is obvious. When you love what you do, it shows in the product. No, I’m not a big fan of sweet wine but these were worth the trip!
My next stop is Tangled Oaks Vineyard and Winery! I found something unexpected when I got there. I’ll tell you about it next week!