Cocktails & Spirits

Schnebly Winery Offers Tropical Fruit Wine and Craft Beer

When Short Order stopped by to visit Schnebly Redland's Winery in Homestead, we never imagined how paradisaical it would be. With a wide-open modern tasting room and a gorgeous patio lush with tropical foliage, it is closer to an oasis than your standard, everyday winetasting spot.

We met with owner and winery, brewery, and distillery expert Peter Schnebly to ask about his inspiration for using tropical fruits to make both wine and his new craft beers.

New Times: Why use tropical fruit as opposed to grapes?
Peter Schnebly: Florida's tropical climate usually produces Muscadine wines. When you pick grapes for pressing, they immediately start juicing. That juice is already being fermented. So the winemaking process needs to begin as soon as possible. With tropical fruit, you find they don't start to juice immediately when picked due to their thicker skin. This allows us to really plan out our process and accumulate a quality amount of fruit to press for our wines.

Tell us about your craft beers.
I was driving to one of our distributors one day and starting thinking about the production process in winemaking. I was thinking about fermentation and how similar it is to beer-making. The only difference being the starting agent and using grain instead of fruit. We have a very small brewery here right now. The government also requires us to have a brewery before we get our license. We are putting together a 24,000-square-foot building just for the brewery.

So you are bringing on a sister campus to the winery?
Right. We are basically doubling in size, but it's important to know we aren't changing anything about our winery. The brewery will feel very much like a brewery, with a beer garden and all the nuances that come with it. We have also thought about bringing on a distillery as well. Why would we want to limit ourselves to one thing? We have so much fruit here that we can actually meet the demand for these new processes.

When will your craft beers be for sale?
The very first ones will be introduced at Grovetoberfest. We will be introducing two of our beers. Gator Tail Ale --

Wow, what's in that?
Barley, hops, and passion fruit. We also have one made from starfruit, which is called Beach Blonde.

Photo by Anais Alexandre
We are the champions, my friend.
After we talked about future distilleries and breweries and flavor profiles, we made our way to the tasting area. But before we could begin, we had a brief tasting lesson. Peter taught us the five S's of wine etiquette.

Sight, swirl, smell, sip, and spit. First you check the hue and how the light passes through the wine, then you swirl it in the glass and check the drip lines; afterward, you check the scent by inhaling deeply into the glass, you taste it by taking in a sip and sucking in air as you swallow. We chose not to waste the wine by spitting because we were tasting only a few.

We sampled the Avovino, which had a brilliant clarity and was thin on the viscosity level. It was dry, with the aroma of avocado. Then we tasted two other wines: Category 3 and mango. Category 3, a mix of lychee, guava, and starfuit, was sweeter than the Avovino. The flavors washed over the tongue one at a time. The mango wine had a warm hue and floral taste and scent. They were all delicious and clean-tasting.

We weren't done yet. We still wanted to ask Peter one final question.

If you had to pick a favorite wine, which would it be? It's like picking a favorite child, isn't it?

(Laughs) Yes, it really is. When I go home, I pour the Avovino and the Guavino. These are the wines I pour before dinner and are my favorites.

Photo by Anais Alexandre
Private tiki, anyone?
Enophiles can buy Schnebly wines from the winery's online shop; they cost about $14 to $19 a bottle.

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Anais Alexandre