Schnebly’s Winery gives visitors a taste

On March 10, Professor Patrick “Chip” Cassidy took 15 advanced wine technology students on a field trip to Schnebly’s Winery in Homestead.

Students had the opportunity to try over six fruit-based wines, including the Schnebly version of Champagne, made from the carambola, or star fruit.

I really enjoyed this experience because wine is a passion of mine, and the visit gave me the chance to try something new.

Schnebly’s is a one of a kind winery because the wine is not derived from its usual fruit – the grape.

Instead, owner Peter Schnebly began making his wines from Florida’s exotic fruits like passion fruit, mango and lychee. “Our goal is to be the best winery you’ve ever visited,” Schnebly said. “There are already 5,500 winery’s making grape wines in the U.S., why would we want to do that?”

Although wine grapes are impossible to grow in South Florida because of the climate, tropical fruits are abundant.

Schnebly farms used to only farm fruits, but today they make wines out of the “spoiled” fruits they are unable to sell to retailers.

The Schnebly definition for “spoiled” fruit is a fruit that is at its peak of ripeness.

“Any fruit that has a spot on it, or is perfectly ripe, like a mango that you can tell is juicy and ready to eat can’t go to Fresh King, our produce company. Instead, we use it to make wine,” Schnebly said.

The winery is also exotic in its appearance.

It creates a tropical ambience while giving the vintage feel of west coast wineries by importing antique detailing for the tasting room.

A sales shack in the middle of the main hall has a 100 year old tin roof that was found in Georgia. The Schnebly’s also boast about having the largest tiki-hut in the state of Florida.

“We really wanted a wow-factor for our winery so we spent one million dollars over the average winery budget for construction and decoration,” Schnebly said.

My favorite part of the trip was the idea that Florida can become more than just a South Beach state.

I feel like this is our first step to being more mature agriculturally, like California where produce just tastes better.

Once you pay for a tasting, and receive your Schnebly’s signature glass, subsequent tastings are free for life.

“We have a running joke around here that when you die you can leave your glass to your children and they can have free tastings for life,” Schnebly said.The mango and lychee wines were sweet and reminiscent of reislings and gewürztraminers, which are a couple of my favorite wines.

I was surprised when my favorite wine was in its experimental stage, made out of yellow tomatoes.

Schnebly’s is a great place for students to go, even if they are on a budget.

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