Keel & Curley Winery tour and tasting blogger meet-up

April 8, 2013 at 6:05 am

{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, which I would have been happy to do anyway. But yay for free wine! All opinions are my own.}

On Saturday evening I was psyched to have the opportunity to attend a Tampa Bay Lady Blogger meet-up at the Keel & Curley Winery in Plant City.

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Keel & Curley was nice enough to invite our blogger group to a complimentary tour and tasting in anticipation of the upcoming Tampa Bay Blueberry Festival.

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I love an opportunity to go to Plant City. In just a short drive from the urban center of Tampa and the heavily populated Pinellas County including St. Pete you are legitimately in the country and it just feels like old Florida to me.

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It was a ridiculously gorgeous day. We savor these days in Florida because we know that the long, scorching summer is just around the corner.

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I got there a few minutes before our private tour was scheduled and took a look around the winery store.

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The winery store was very busy!

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Both the wine tasting bar and the regular bar which serves wine and beer were packed.

The store was fully stocked with all of the Keel & Curley lines of wine as well as lots of fun wino paraphernalia.

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I hung out with a few of my blogger friends until they told us it was time to for our tour to get on the wagon.

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If you look closely behind the wagon above you will see girls in prom dresses. It was the evening of the Plant City High School prom and the winery was hopping with prom-goers having photos made on the property.

Our tour guide Sam began by telling us a brief history of the winery…

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while we gave our straggler friends a chance to arrive.

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Glad you made it Denise and Chrissy!

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That is the cutest purse ever Denise!

And the cutest couples ever…

Genna and Kat and their guys:

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Lisa and Jina and their guys:

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and finally me and Caitlyn and no guys, haha.

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Finally we were off on the tour, first passing some new blackberry vines that had recently been planted and more kids in prom clothes.

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It was a short ride through acres of blueberry bushes.

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When we arrived at our destination Sam told us some more about the progression of the winery over the years…

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then led us into the large warehouse housing all of the winery’s tanks…where the magic happens. Jina’s dog Chloe led the way. They are dog friendly at Keel & Curley!

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The inside of the building was very impressive.

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Sam explained all about the wine-making process.

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He also explained about how proud of the spotlessness of their winery they were…and it was true. The place was so clean!

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Sam explained how all of the different tanks and equipment worked, especially the multi-step progressive filtering process that all the wine goes through utilizing these three filters…that last small one on the right is a super duper fine micro particle filter (technical term):

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In the next room Sam explained about the bottling process.

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He also told us that Keel & Curley helps to house some hard apple cider for Cigar City Brewing, a local craft brewery.

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He told us that all of the bottles and synthetic corks (environmentally friendly!) for their bottling process are made locally in Florida.

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Keel & Curley wine is available in most of the large chain grocery stores in Florida, at most large chain liquor stores, and also at many mom and pop local liquor stores and specialty food and wine stores.

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Their total distribution has been growing year after year.

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After the tour we had a short ride back to the winery store and tasting room. Chloe was totally impressed with the beautiful farm.

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Back at the winery store we were led to an area they had reserved for us on the patio which was busy with happy-looking patrons. There were parties going on there as well as many people just hanging out and enjoying the beautiful Florida day with a glass of wine.

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They were also enjoying a popular local country band called Soul Circus…

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and food from Just the Goods food truck.

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I ordered a Reuben (Reubin?) and grabbed a seat just in time for the wine glasses to appear.

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First up was the dry blueberry wine.

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I’m not a huge wine drinker and really rarely actually find a wine that I think is awesome. I’m just more of a cocktail kind of girl…martinis and margaritas are my thing. But I have to honestly say that I liked the dry blueberry wine.

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We tried eight more varieties of wine after that, including two blackberry wines (one sweet and one dry), and many varieties of grape/fruit blends (90% grape/10% fruit). I didn’t love either of the blackberry wines but they also have a “Wine Makers Reserve” blackberry wine that we didn’t try which is $20 a bottle and I bet would have been good. I thought all of the grape-fruit blends were pretty good and would have been great with fresh fruit as a sangria or mixed with some sparkling water…they were very sweet. I didn’t care too much for the Key Lime blend, but really loved the Wild Berry Pinot Noir blend.

The wine kept coming, but I had to call it a night as the peach chardonnay was being served. Our server said it was her favorite and told me I was missing out. Before I left we did manage to get a great Tampa Bay Lady Bloggers group photo.

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I’m sad that my friend Xiomara, who was so awesome to arrange this whole meet-up for us, left just before we thought to get a photo! Xiomara does all of the marketing for Parkesdale Farm Market (and writes the Parkesdale Farm blog) which is right up the country road from Keel & Curley, and of course Parkesdale and Keel & Curley are farm buddies. Thank you so much Xiomara! And thank you to Keel & Curley Winery for hosting us and letting us sample your delicious wines!

Be sure to take a look at the Keel & Curley website to find out about tours, tastings, and all the fun events they have at the winery. You can also “Like” them on Facebook.

Don’t forget to check out the Tampa Bay Blueberry Festival coming up April 27th & 28th!

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Cya.

Romantic getaway to Portofino Bay Orlando, Day 1

December 13, 2012 at 10:05 am

Ever since we got back from Orlando on Saturday I have had zero desire to download and edit photos. I often feel like this after vacations when I have hundreds of photos to go through. This photo aversion carries over into not wanting to take photos of every single little thing like I usually do. So I’ve taken almost no photos since we got back. So much for my photo-a-day challenges. In my defense, I pretty much knew that I would end up laming out on those. I’ve tried them before and at some point I just don’t want to do it anymore. It was fun for a while.

I finally forced myself to go through the first days’ worth of photos from our little mini-vacation, so here they are.

After getting both boys off to school on Thursday, I went to the St. Pete/Clearwater airport to pick up my Mom who was arriving from Tennessee.

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The boys were so excited that she would be there when they got out of school. Thank you so much Mom!

After giving her the run-down of what to expect for the next two days with the boys, Chad and I vacated.

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We ate lunch on the road…sandwiches from Einstein Bros. Bagels. I had a chicken pesto bagel thin sandwich.

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It was fairly smooth sailing about an hour and a half to Orlando.

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A month or so ago I asked my social media friends where we should go in Orlando at Universal City Walk for a romantic getaway weekend. We had stayed at the Royal Pacific, but weren’t really familiar with the other hotels. Several of my friends said that the Portofino was very romantic, so that’s what we chose.

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The hotel was beautiful and our room was very nice.

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We had a view of one of the pools.

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There was an interesting window between the bedroom and the bathroom.

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Relaxation began immediately (margarita #1):

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After we got settled in we decided to take a walk around the resort to get the lay of the land. I wore my Garmin and made sure we got in at least one mile.

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It was hard to resist taking self portraits every time we got in an elevator.

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Some of the paths around the resort were almost fall-like with the hardwood trees shedding their leaves. This is unusual in Florida.

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After we had explored every corner of the Portofino Bay Hotel, we headed back to our room for another drink (I was trying to keep track at this point)…

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and then left to go to Universal City Walk for dinner. There was a singer performing on the plaza where the ferry launch was located.

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The Christmas decorations were beautiful, and the Clauses were just hanging out next to the huge tree.

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On the ferry:

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Our destination for dinner:

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So many margaritas to choose from!

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I went for the “perfect” margarita.

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Still keeping track:

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For my dinner I chose the Jerk Salmon and a garden salad.

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Chad got a cheeseburger in paradise.

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Last drink of the evening:

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After dinner we walked around Universal City Walk a bit.

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Then we rode the ferry back to the Portofino and called it a night.

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Day 2 still to come if I can make myself go through the photos.