Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Keel and Curley Winery (Florida)

I'm in Florida on business. While visiting the grocery store Publix, very popular chain in Florida, where I stopped to buy tooth paste and mouthwash. And there in the aisle was a display for local wine. Keel and Curley Winery.

Keel and Curley Winery was started in spring of 2003 in the kitchen of founder and owner, Joe Keel. Keel, a central Florida blueberry farmer wanted to find something to do with his end of crop blueberries. As in most produce farming, once the market price reaches a price which is lower than harvest and sale commissions, farms stop harvesting their crops. At this time in the season, there are still a lot of quality blueberries on the bushes.

So Keel asked himself, “what can I do with this perfectly good fruit, to use it in a productive way and not waste it? Jellies, jams, blueberry pies? No!” Keel decided blueberry wine would be interesting to dabble with in the family farm house kitchen.

He started that spring of 2003 with 10 gallons of blueberry wine. The wine came out so-so, but drinkable. So he made 10 more gallons and it got better each time. So was the beginning of a company he started with production of over 20,000 cases of quality wines that the company produces to this day.

Keel and Curley Winery, produces three types of Blueberry wines, each with a very distinct taste. The first is a sweet wine, the second, a semi-dry or semi-sweet wine, and the third, a dry wine. All three wines are made from 100% blueberries.

Fusion wines are wines that are fused, or blended wines. Part grape based wines, (for example, Merlot or Chardonnay) blended with fruit juices (Strawberry or Tangerine). Keel and Curley winery produces seven (7) different Fusion wines, great for picnics, summer sipping, and perfect for barbecue, Mexican, or other spicey summer fare.

1.Strawberry Riesling
2.Wild Berry Pinot Noir
3.Tangerine Zinfandel
4.Key West – Key Lime
5.Black Raspberry Merlot
6.Mango Mama
7.Peach Chardonnay

I bought a bottle each of Keel and Curley Peach Chardonnay and Dry Blueberry Wine.

The Dry Blueberry is 100% blueberries, no grapes added. Purple-red coloring with the tart scent of sweet berry skin. The body is big and brash. Now, I am a fan of dry blueberry wine, as you well know from my writings on Bartlett. Now, where Bartlett's dry wild blueberry tastes more like a fine Chianti, I think, like Dave McIntyre, that Keel & Curley's wine tastes much more like a fruity malbec. Big nose. Nice color. Medium finish. Nice with BBQ or pizza.

The Peach Chardonnay is light golden in coloring with a bright note of peach blossom on the nose. The body is crisp and rounded, sweetly scented of ripe orchard peaches> And maybe a hint of light honey as promised. Not too sweet, not too dry and bursting with fruit flavor. Would be great with BBQ and Mexican as well. A super summer sipped. A fun picnic wine.

Read the Washington Post's Dave McIntyre's piece on the dry blueberry: