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Winery

Lakeridge Winery Summer Grape Stomp

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Located in Clermont, about an hour southeast of the Villages of Citrus Hills, Lakeridge Winery is the largest winery in the state of Florida. They are best known for offering some of the most outstanding premium wines made in Florida, but they also throw one wild party when it’s time to harvest their grapes each summer.

Now in its 24th year, the annual Summer Harvest Grape Stomp has evolved into a full-blown, weekend-long festival complete with grape stomping competitions, live entertainment, delicious food, and exciting tours and tastings.

This year, the event will be happening at the Lakeridge Winery on August 10, 11, and 12.

Grape Stomping History

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The practice of stomping on grapes to make wine dates all the way back to 200 B.C., but new technologies have made the method all but obsolete here in 2018. However, it’s still an extremely fun activity, which is why it’s so popular at many American wineries during the summer harvest season.

The Grape Stomp at Lakeridge Winery is one of the most famous wine festivals of the entire year here in Florida and jumping feet-first into a barrel of grapes can be a fantastically fun family activity for all ages.

Live Entertainment

While wine will definitely excite your senses of taste, smell, and sight, adding a little music will help to get one more sense involved. And aside from a 30-minute break in between bands, there will be live music performances for the entire duration of the Summer Grape Stomp.

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On Friday, August 10, the Nightly Groove Band will take the stage first and be followed by The Dave Capp Project. The Saturday schedule will feature Baby Blues & The No Attitude Band followed by the Ronnie Duncan Band, and then Sunday the Smoking' Torpedoes and Buddy Blues take the stage.

There will also be separate performances in the Wine & Cheese Bar on Saturday and Sunday featuring The Rusty & Laurie Wright Duo, Joe Hand, and Jeff Whitfield.

Don't Forget the Cheese

Speaking of the Wine & Cheese Bar, it will be open on Saturday and Sunday of the event serving up some delicious cheese tray options that will make a perfect accompaniment to whatever type of wine you might be enjoying.

The food court will also be open throughout the entire weekend that include American, Greek, Mexican, seafood, BBQ, and more. This is also the spot to enjoy a cold slushy or soft drink in between glasses of wine.

Fun & Games

Winery visits are typically considered an "adults only" type of activity, but the Summer Grape Stomp has plenty of fun activities for the younger grape stompers in your family as well. Just Fantastic will be on hand demonstrating some of their most popular inflatable games for the kids.

Of course, fun and games aren't just for the kids. The winery also plans to have cornhole games going throughout much of the weekend, so make sure your bean bag toss is in mid-summer form.

Tours & Tastings

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If you haven’t visited the Lakeridge Winery before, this event is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of their fascinating tours and tastings.

These tours run every 15-20 minutes during the festival, and they typically finish up in the tasting area, which includes anywhere from six to eight different stations positioned in the production facility.

Getting to Lakeridge Winery

You can get to Lakeridge Winery by heading out either FL-44 or FL-48 from Inverness, and it takes just about an hour to get there from the Villages of Citrus Hills. There are also four hotels nearby if you would like to make a weekend trip out of the festival.

With 80 acres of vineyards, 420,000 gallons of tank capacity, and over 20,000 bottles sitting in the "Sparkling Wine Cave," it is easy to see that Lakeridge Winery is one of the premier Florida destinations for wine lovers. If that includes you, or even if you just think the idea of stomping some grapes sounds fun, then this is an event that you won't want to miss.

5 Local Wineries to Put on Your To Do List

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With such an astounding number of exciting tourist attractions surrounding the Villages of Citrus Hills, our residents are always finding new adventures all around them. One easy activity that just about everyone will enjoy is visiting some of the outstanding wineries of the region.

Whether you see yourself as an amateur sommelier, or you are looking to up your wine knowledge, or just looking for something fun to do on a Saturday afternoon, these wineries in and around Citrus County offer the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a wide range of excellent local products.

Copp Winery, Crystal River

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Located right down the road in Crystal River, Copp Winery is one of the friendliest and inviting winery atmospheres you will find anywhere. They do an excellent job of putting novice wine drinkers at ease with their three tasting rules: relax, enjoy, and don't worry. 

Copp Winery produces a wide range of wines that includes the most common varietals, but they also specialize in creating some unique blends and sweet wines.

There are plenty of options to try by the glass at their wine bar, and they also sell bottles and cases to take with you.  They also micro brew ales.

If you are having a few glasses in the wine bar, you might also want to plan on ordering the Cheese Sampler Plate or the Bruschetta Pomodoro from their Snack Bar menu. Both are excellent.

Whispering Oaks Winery, Oxford

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You won't find any traditional choices on the wine list at Whispering Oaks Winery. That's because they make all of their wines from locally grown and freshly harvested blueberries.

Located just a bit east in Sumter County, Whispering Oaks is doing some amazing things with one of the hottest new trends in the world of wine. They also serve fantastic flatbreads that can be paired up with whatever blueberry wine you decide is right for the moment.

And if you are planning an evening trip to Whispering Oaks, you should make a reservation for one of their steak nights that includes a fantastic steak dinner on the stunning patio next to the wood grill and koi pond.

Lakeridge Winery, Clermont

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With more than 200 acres of vineyards under contract across the state of Florida, Lakeridge Winery in Clermont is one of the largest and most impressive wineries in the entire state. But that doesn't stop them from paying particular attention to every single bottle they produce, as well as every single customer that walks through their doors.

The wine offerings include many of the standards like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but we recommend tasting their Chablis, which is a blend of Florida Muscadine grapes. The winery has tours every day of the week, and they also have a great retail area where you can purchase all kinds of gift items along with their wines.

Backyard Barn Winery and Microbrewery, Wildwood

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While visiting a winery always sounds like an excellent idea for wine drinkers, you might have a hard time convincing your beer drinking friends to tag along. That won't be a problem if you are heading to Barnyard Barn Winery because they also brew their own small-batch beers with the same level of craftsmanship that they put into their wines.

 

This is an excellent place to visit if you are planning to spend some time in the tasting room. And make sure that you check their website for upcoming events because they regularly host live music nights.

Katya Vineyards, Ocala

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Located in downtown Ocala, Katya Vineyards offers another excellent selection of local wines to choose from. In addition to their own wines, they also carry a number of carefully chosen imported wines and craft beers in their tasting room.  Be sure to try their flagship white blend.

Katya Vineyards also offers a Wine Club program where you can have their wines shipped right to your door at whatever schedule works best for you!

 

Day Trip To Tarpon Springs

The historic town of Tarpon Springs is located about an hour south of the Villages of Citrus Hills right on the Gulf Coast, just north of Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater.  

The town represents an interesting combination of rich history and modern culture with a dash of Greek heritage. If you are passionate about history, shopping for antiques, or excellent Greek food, Tarpon Springs will make an excellent day trip for you and your family. 

History of Tarpon Springs 

Tarpon Springs received its name when some of the first visitors to the town observed a number of Tarpon jumping out of the water out in the Gulf of Mexico.

As you can probably guess, the Tarpon Fishing here is excellent. But that wasn’t originally the most popular sea item in Tarpon Springs. 

Tarpon Springs is also known as “The Sponge Capital of the World” because its 51-mile coast was once filled with sponges. In the early 1900s, many Greek sponge divers made their way to Tarpon Springs to harvest these sponges, which led to Tarpon Springs having the largest Greek population in all of Florida. 

In 1947, just about all of the sponge fields around Tarpon Springs were destroyed, so most of the sponge industry was then converted to fishing and shrimping. However, “The Sponge Capital of the World” lives on in spirit with attractions like the Sponge Docks and Spongeorama.  

The first stop for any history buffs visiting Tarpon Springs should be the Tarpon Springs Area Historical Society’s Welcome Center and Museum. Other great historic sites include the Tarpon Springs Historic District, the Safford House, Old Tarpon Springs City Hall, and the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral.  

Tarpon Springs Attractions 

One of the most popular attractions in Tarpon Springs is known as The Sponge Docks. This wharf area is filled with boats, but has also become populated with great shopping and restaurants.  

You can stroll the docks, tour sponge boats, visit dozens of small shops, and find great authentic Greek cuisine, all in one central location. The Tarpon Springs Aquarium is also located right next to The Sponge Docks. 

Another popular attraction in Tarpon Springs is the Tarpon Springs Cultural Center. This former high school turned theater plays host to a wide variety of community theater and music events throughout the year. There is a lot of information about upcoming shows on their website, where you can find the perfect event to schedule your trip around. 

Wine drinkers will absolutely want to plan on stopping at the Tarpon Springs Castle Winery. This beautiful facility offers daily tours, information on how their handcrafted wines are produced, and plenty of tasting opportunities.

Dining in Tarpon Springs  

With its rich Greek heritage, Tarpon Springs is known for having some of the best Greek restaurants in Florida. If you are a fan of Greek cuisine, you will have more than your fair share of options in Tarpon Springs.

The most popular Greek restaurant is probably Hellas Restaurant and Bakery, but you will also find outstanding Greek food at Mykonos, Mr. Souvlaki, and The Original Mama Maria’s Greek Cuisine.  

While Greek food is obviously a staple in Tarpon Springs, there are plenty of other options as well. Rusty Bellies at the end of The Sponge Docks is known for serving great seafood, and the Tarpon Tavern has some outstanding pub-style cuisine. You might also want to try the Caribbean food at the Jerk Center and the pizza at Plum Tomato. 

The ideal day trip to Tarpon Springs would contain a little bit of history in the morning, followed by pizza or pub food for lunch. After that, you could plan an afternoon of shopping at The Sponge Docks, followed by a Greek dinner and a show at the Tarpon Spring Cultural Center.  

Even if you can’t find a show that sparks your interest, there is still plenty to do here, which is what makes Tarpon Springs a great place to spend the day!