Long before documentaries spotlighted the issue of food waste, Peter and Denisse Schnebly were trying to figure out a way to use the hundreds of pounds of tropical fruit deemed not pretty enough to sell from their farm. Peter Schnebly says a friend suggested making wines from the fruits. "We had a lot of fruit that wasn't marketable. It was good fruit; it just had a blemish on the skin." Thus, Schnebly Redland's Winery was born.
People began visiting the tasting room, fashioned out of a trailer, to savor the wines made from guava, mango, starfruit, and other local fruits. The wines started gaining recognition and a following, and Peter Schnebly had a vision. "I knew that people wanted this, and I knew I wanted to do this. This was a place that I wanted to go to."
He began building a state-of-the-art winery and tasting room, the likes of which you could find in Napa or Sonoma. Sure enough, Schnebly became a destination day trip for South Floridians who wanted a break from the city or beach and tourists who make a pilgrimage to South Miami-Dade's farmlands.
Schnebly then decided to make beer. Miami Brewing Company, the first production brewery in Miami-Dade, was born. It turned out unique beers with notes of coconut, mango, and Cuban coffee. "Everything we make has the flavor and culture of Miami in it." The brewery is now in expansion mode. Daddy Brews owner Jacob Lindsay was recently named brewmaster, and a 10,000-square-foot taproom, complete with a bar fashioned from local keystone and coral, is being built.
Lindsay says that while other breweries might incorporate tropical fruit into their beers, only Schnebly brewers know exactly what's going into the glass. Part of his job is to go into the fields to smell, touch, and taste the crops. "Today is when I'm going to pick the fruit. This is what seed-to-table, seed-to-fork, grain-to-glass really means."
The winery has come full circle with the addition of chef Dewey LoSasso. The venerable Miami toque constantly changes the menu at the property's Redlander Restaurant, choosing produce from local farms and fish from the nearby Keys. "I'm playing with food," he says. "I'll drive around in the golf cart to see what's good."
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LoSasso also uses the spent grain from the brewery to make breads and tabouli salads. He also pairs his meals with wines from the winery. The chef says everything ties in perfectly. "We had the produce company, then we had the winery, then Miami Brewing Company, now the Redlander Restaurant. So it's been one line from the beginning until now where it's been local while keeping it fresh and keeping it fun."
Peter Schnebly and his team aren't finished expanding what can aptly be called Disney for grownups. In addition to the taproom and a permanent version of the Redlander Restaurant, Schnebly is looking at building a small inn. That way, city folks can spend the day touring the winery and grounds, have a leisurely dinner, and enjoy that second bottle of wine as the sun sets over the Everglades.