The impact of wine is truly massive in this country.
According to The Wine Institute, California wine has one of the biggest impacts on the U.S. economy employing 786,000 Americans and generating $114 billion in annual economic activity. The impact on Florida’s economy is nearly $6.8 billion with $2 billion in wages paid and $991.2 million in taxes generated.
Over 900,000,000 gallons of wine were produced in 2017 according to Wine America and the U.S. leads the world in wine consumption. U.S. wine exports reached and estimated $1.46 billion in value in 2018. Florida is ranked 4th in economic impact by the wine industry in the United States.
Tampa Bay has a history with wine thanks to a couple of wine growers in the region and the national attention to Bern’s Steak House. In the last decade more sophisticated wine bars have been appearing over town as Tampa grows into a bigger cities and St. Petersburg and surrounding areas follow.
The pandemic has led to a rise in not just local wineries but virtual tastings from wineries around the country and world as producers seek to capture a consumer base that is finding itself at home more often due to remote work. Some groups, such as PRP Wine in Tampa, have capitalized on this with both in-person events and tastings done virtually. Many of the best wine spots in Tampa are still in-person experiences although some have outdoor seating available.
Here are great places to grab a glass around Tampa Bay:
Bern’s Steak House: The king of wine in Tampa. Bern’s Steak House and their associated concepts including the Harry Waugh Dessert Room, Haven Tampa, and Epicurean Hotel are a celebration of wine. Bern’s is well-known for having one of the largest if not the largest wine selection on the planet. You can order almost anything provided you can afford it. Bern’s has world-class servers and is certainly a place to impress. 1208 South Howard Avenue, Tampa, FL 33606. (813) 251-2421. bernssteakhouse.com
Ybor City Wine Bar: A home for people who truly love wine. Ybor City Wine Bar is quaint and something you might expect to see more abroad as a small bar with limited seating outdoors, but there is no doubting the commitment to providing a variety of wines. Their wine classes have been offered for a few years now and people who really love wine have found a community here. Jayme Kosar, Certified Sommelier and Owner of Ybor City Wine Bar, has carefully handpicked a variety of over 200 reasonably priced boutique wines providing a wide selection in a variety of price points. These wines are available for purchase by the glass or by the bottle. Check out their sister location in Seminole Heights next to Mekenita Cantina. yborcitywinebar.com
Keel & Curley Winery: Just 10 to 15 minutes from Tampa, get off I-4 near Dinosaur World and visit this blueberry farm and winery for some very unique libations. Keel & Curley makes wine from blueberries and also has a number of other fruit wines including pear, strawberry, and key lime. They offer wine flights and sell their bottles in grocery stores around Florida. It’s about to be strawberry season so look out for limited-time promotions as well and U-Pick Blueberries. 5202 Thonotosassa Road, Plant City, FL 33565. (813) 752-9100. keelfarms.com
Michael’s Wine Cellar: Take a trip South to the Sarasota beaches and grab a glass of wine and a bottle to-go on the way at Michael’s. Michael’s Wine Cellar is connected to Michael’s On East, a great restaurant run by a pioneer in the independent food scene in Sarasota that features a 1940s supper club environment. Michael’s Wine Cellar has been in operation for 30+ years. They now offer curbside pickup and delivery for their local customers. You can shop online at michaelswinecellar.com. 1283 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34239. (941) 955-2675
BIN + BOARD wine / cheese / provisions: The Greater Brandon Area finally has a wine bar to call home on Bloomingdale Avenue. Guests report this to be a date-friendly experience with custom cheese boards and an excellent selection of wines from the same family as the popular Stein & Vine neighborhood restaurant and bar. An ever-expanding wine list is something to look forward to for locals and visitors alike. 807 West Bloomingdale Avenue, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 438-5252. binandboard.com
Cru Cellars: This Palma Ceia has long been a staple in South Tampa and opened doors in 2010. The concept has now expanded into Armature Works over the last few years and become more mainstream, but that doesn’t mean the focus on wine has slipped at all. A location in WestShore Marina is also in the works. Co-Owners Jennifer and Torrey Bingham are both Certified Sommeliers through the Court of Master Sommeliers. 2506 South MacDill Avenue, Tampa, FL 33629. (813) 831-1117. crucellars.com
Annata Wine Bar: This wine spot on Beach Drive in Downtown St. Petersburg features outdoor seating right across from Straub Park and features excellent deals regularly rotating. Wines are served by the glass paired with global plates, cured meats & cheeses. The menu leans Italian. 300 Beach Drive NE #128, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 851-9582. annatawine.com
Hope you enjoy a great glass today!
Sources: Wine Institute, Wine America
Photo Credit: alesha_macarosha, tysson, Madii LaFerney, Pixabay