Episode 27

Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards - Clermont, FL Pt. 2

COO Barry Hus of Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards explains the impressive details of Florida's largest winery.

Whether it's food, cars, or houses, we're always looking for that wow factor. I still remember seeing my wife the first time in her wedding dress. So when people come up to your winery, can you tell me your wow factor? It's a big property. I think people are very surprised, first of all, that it's hilly. And when they pull into the property, it's kind of a Tuscan design, building, and layout of the property, and the vineyards surround the property on all sides. So when you drive up, you see a large open grass area and fencing that leads up to the large building that is the winery. People from all over the world come to visit us here because Central Florida is a very tourist-driven area. We hear a lot that it reminds them of Europe looking over the hillside, seeing the vineyards, seeing the style of building that we have. It's very reminiscent of things that you would see in Italy or France or things like that. So that's probably the biggest surprise that people are just shocked that something like this exists in this area and that is so large. We do have an outdoor area with large oak trees where we have music and a food court and an outdoor wine bar that goes on every weekend from noon to four on Saturdays and Sundays. And so they can come out even during the week, they can come out and get a bottle of wine, cheese tray or something like that, go out and sit at our picnic tables and just kind of enjoy the view. So it's very open. We like people to take a look around and see what's going on here and just kind of enjoy themselves while they are here. So it's not just kind of a walk into a retail shop, it's kind of a full experience.

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Transcript
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Welcome to The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast, I'm your host, Forrest Kelly, from the seed

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to the glass wine has a past.

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Our aim at The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast is to look for adventure at wineries around

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the globe. After all, grape minds think alike.

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Let's start the adventure.

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Our featured winery is:

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We continue our conversation with Berry Hus, COO of Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards.

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Looking at your location in Florida, it looks like you're just a few miles northwest of

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the Magic Kingdom of Orlando.

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Yeah, we're northwest. About actually 20 minutes.

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30 minutes depends on how you get here.

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The turnpike comes within a couple of miles of where we're at out here.

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It's hilly. It's a beautiful area.

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It's why this land was selected for the vineyards.

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This area of Florida just really lends itself to a great production.

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It's been very good for us.

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I love to hear that.

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It's great when a business actually does some research and design before they ever open

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the doors. Sounds like you've picked your location for a reason.

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How many acres is the property?

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We have one hundred and twenty-seven acres.

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Yes, right here. The vineyards, there's about 70 acres of actual vineyard.

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The rest of it is for buildings and barns and things like that.

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We have a second retail location at St Augustine's called San Sebastian Winery.

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We do a port there in our barrel room and our port bottling is there.

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We do have tank space there.

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We actually have probably twenty-five thousand gallons of wine there right now being

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stored and then we have vineyards up in the Panhandle.

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The winery started originally up in the Panhandle around the Tallahassee area in the

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early eighties. We have 450 acres of land up there.

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I believe about one hundred and ten acres of those are in vineyards and then we contract

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with smaller vineyards throughout the state to kind of diversify the crop.

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We don't, you know, we get so many storms here and hurricanes and high winds.

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We're producing and or buying grapes throughout the state and some in South Georgia,

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Whether it's food, cars, or houses.

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We're always looking for that wow factor.

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I still remember seeing my wife the first time in her wedding dress.

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So when people come up to your winery, can you tell me your wow factor?

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It's a big property.

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I think people are very surprised, first of all, that it's hilly.

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And when they pull into the property, it's kind of a Tuscan design, building, and layout

Speaker:

of the property, and the vineyards surround the property on all sides.

Speaker:

So when you drive up, you see a large open grass area and fencing that leads up to the

Speaker:

large building that is the winery.

Speaker:

People from all over the world come to visit us here because Central Florida is a very

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tourist-driven area. We hear a lot that it reminds them of Europe looking over the

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hillside, seeing the vineyards, seeing the style of building that we have.

Speaker:

It's very reminiscent of things that you would see in Italy or France or things like

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that. So that's probably the biggest surprise that people are just shocked that something

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like this exists in this area and that is so large.

Speaker:

We do have an outdoor area with large oak trees where we have music and a food court and

Speaker:

an outdoor wine bar that goes on every weekend from noon to four on Saturdays and

Speaker:

Sundays. And so they can come out even during the week, they can come out and get a

Speaker:

bottle of wine, cheese tray or something like that, go out and sit at our picnic tables

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and just kind of enjoy the view.

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So it's very open.

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We like people to take a look around and see what's going on here and just kind of enjoy

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themselves while they are here.

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So it's not just kind of a walk into a retail shop, it's kind of a full experience.

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And with those experiences, did you have to change much with COVID?

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We did. Our total volume of sales kind of remain the same.

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It just switched.

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We were wholesaling a lot, of course, you know, everybody's at home buying their wine at

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the local supermarkets rather than coming into the store.

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So our volume was kind of the same, but we don't sell the same wines in wholesale that we

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do in retail. So a lot of our specialty wines, like our sparkling and our ports and

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things, we don't wholesale those.

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So we had to really gear up and try and get in more glass and bottle a lot of our

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staples, our main red and our white, and our blush that we sell mainly through wholesale,

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we had to bottle lots more of that and get us ready.

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So that was going on in the wholesale world and in our production schedule.

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At the same time, our retail shops for a small period of time were almost shut down.

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We did stay open the whole time, but at our location at St.

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Augustine, we have a bar and a restaurant at the top of the building.

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Of course, that had to shut down our normally our tours last about an hour where we do a

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guided tour. They go in and they watch a short film on the history of the winery and then

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a guide takes them around.

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They see the tank room and they see the vineyards from a balcony, and they're explaining

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the process of the crush and all that kind of stuff.

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And then we have a very large kind of a U-shaped tasting counter, and the group all goes

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down to the tasting counter where they get to taste the wine.

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Then they talk about foods and we go through the whole experience.

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Of course, with COVID, we had to stop doing that, but we went to a kind of walkthrough

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style where the film was just on a rotation.

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People went into the theater and we're spaced apart a walk through the same areas, but

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without a guide. And then we had individual tasting stations where just your group would

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go to a counter and not be closed to other people.

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We hope to return to the guided tours.

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I think people really enjoy that.

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They learn a lot. It's a good experience.

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Thank you for listening.

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I'm Forrest Kelley.

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This episode of The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast was produced by IHYSM.

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If you like the show, please tell your friends and pets and subscribe.

About the Podcast

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The Best 5 Minute Wine Podcast
The Best 5 Minute Wine Podcast is a weekly podcast by Forrest Kelly exploring wineries around the world. We take 5 minutes and give you wine conversation starters and travel destinations. In addition, you'll hear candid interviews from those shaping...

About your host

Profile picture for Forrest Kelly

Forrest Kelly

The Best 5 Minute Wine Podcast is a weekly podcast by Forrest Kelly exploring wineries around the world. We take 5 minutes and give you wine conversation starters and travel destinations. In addition, you'll hear candid interviews from those shaping the wine field. Join us as we become inspired by their search for extraordinary wine and wineries.
WELP Magazine recognized the podcast as one of the best Travel Podcasts of 2021.