Home to a number of pristine natural springs, Ocala/Marion County’s sparkling waterways are more than scenic. For Fish Hawk Spirits, a farm-to-bottle distillery in Dunnellon, the springs provide the necessary ingredient for artisan whiskey-making. Tours of the distillery enable guests to sample its most popular product, Marion 106 Black, made from tangerines. Groups can ride horseback to the distillery.
The new Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens near Kissimmee is surrounded by lush botanical gardens. This sustainable winery and microbrewery features a bistro, winery tours and tastings, and a botanical garden growing organic fruits and vegetables.
Fiddler’s Ridge Farms and Winery is based in Lake Wales; its founders, Gary and Cindy Farmer, have been in the agriculture industry for nearly 32 years. The Farmers started making wine several years ago from Florida Fresh blueberries grown and harvested at their own blueberry farm. The winery now produces seven different wines, all handcrafted using only fresh Florida and local ingredients. The winery can accommodate up to 20 for private tastings.
Quantum Leap Winery in downtown Orlando offers space for group functions: the Barrel Room for smaller parties of up to 35; the tasting room for up to 175; or the entire winery, which accommodates up to 400.
More than 160,000 people visit the Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards in Clermont annually, enjoying the extensive tasting room, festivals and gift shop.
The private room at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, near Orlando’s convention center, holds up to 50 for an event with signature menus designed to pair perfectly with Cooper’s Hawk wines. In addition to the restaurant, there is a private barrel-aging room and full-service bar.
The Corkscrew Winery, in two locations, Lady Lake and Ocala, lets attendees be the winemaker as they mix the raw grape juices and prepare it for fermentation. Custom-made labels for a special event or brand are available.