One of my favorite aspects of our visits to wineries, aside from tasting all of the wonderful wines, is learning about the history that is always an integral part of the property and the people that are involved. We recently visited the San Sebastian Winery in St. Augustine, FL.
Any grade school child will tell you that St. Augustine is our Nation’s oldest city and according to historians, this area is the birthplace of American wine, dating back to 1562. The San Sebastian Winery was founded in 1996 and is located at 157 King Street, in one of Henry Flagler’s old East Coast Railway buildings located just a few blocks from historic downtown. It is a family-run corporation with Gary Cox and Charles Cox at the helm and Jeanne Burgess as the Vice President and Director of Winemaking Operations.
With over 18,000 square feet, 40,000 gallons of wine storage capacity, and an automated bottling line capable of bottling up to 15,000 bottles per day, San Sebastian remains the second largest winery in the state of Florida. It is a busy place…160,000 visitors per year go there to enjoy the wine, the ambiance, and the history. Their 127-acre vineyard, known as Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards, is located in Clermont, Fla. They also own 450 acres in Florida’s panhandle in Prosperity and contract with several growers throughout the Southeast with approximately 200 acres under contract.
San Sebastian produces Florida hybrid bunch grapes which include Stover, Suwannee, and Blanc Du Bois. They also grow native varieties of the red Noble and bronze Carlos and Welder Muscadines. Complimentary Winery tours and wine tasting are offered 7 days a week; Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5p.m. and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. Our guide Nicky made the experience not only educational but lots of fun!
The winery and retail store are open until 6 p.m. On weekends make an evening of it and visit the “The Cellar Upstairs” Wine, Jazz & Blues Bar located on the rooftop of the Winery building. It is the place to be in St. Augustine! You can enjoy the San Sebastian wines, craft beers and light appetizers while relaxing with the scenic views of the St. Augustine skyline and San Sebastian Inlet. Live music is performed featuring a wide range of talented local and regional bands. Our Personal Tasting Favorites were the flagship wine “Castillo Red”, the “Vintners Red” and the “Blanc de Fleur”. You can purchase San Sebastian wines at your local Publix or ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. Please visit www.sansebastianwinery.com for more info!