COO Barry Hus, explains the adventure of a tour at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards.
So in our typical guided tour, when I say that they stay within the building, our main building is fairly large. It has a second floor, they go up into the theater. It's a church pew style. They sit and watch the film. It's about 10 minutes. It goes through the history of wine and winemaking in Florida and how we got involved in it. Then there are walkways that go across our production area and from the walkways. They can see our bottling line and our tanks and the processes and the pumps and everything and the workers down below. The guide would explain to them what's going on. We have cold stabilization going on or we've got bottling, going on, or whatever might be happening at the time. They then walk outside. We have an outdoor balcony on the back of the building that overlooks our crushed deck and the vineyard so they can see the vineyards from there. They can see the crushed deck and the equipment, the presses, pumps, and all that kind of stuff. And depending on the time of year, like right now, we just finished pressing the last of our grapes yesterday. So from August and early September, they can see the grapes being crushed. The rest of the time, they will see the vineyards in full bloom or dormant, you know, depending on the time of the year, and the guide will talk to them about that. They don't go out into the vineyard. And then from there, they come across another walkway mezzanine. Generally, Monday through Thursday, we're bottling. They can see the bottling line in action and then from there they go into the main part of the retail shop where our tasting counter is. Customers can get up close to the vines out in our festival area. They can walk right up to the vineyard and see the vines and the grapes and things like that.
Pre-covid, in 2019, I see where Florida had over 130,000,000 million visitors, tourists. So out of those people, when they visit the winery, are you seeing some kind of commonality between the novice and the expert in your visitorship?
Yeah, there's a commonality and they do run that full gamut, you know, from people who are very curious and have never seen it to people who have seen hundreds of them, you know, have been all over the world and seen them. I think the commonality is the surprise that something like this exists in Florida. Nobody thinks Florida is having any kind of wine industry at all, let alone something that's of this size. And then the flavor of the wine is so uniquely different from anything else that they're going to taste, and even people who generally are dry drinkers are surprised at it. It's a sweet wine, but it's more of a fruit-forward, kind of a sweetness and not like a sugary sweetness to it. We serve it chilled. It's very refreshing. It's something that goes well with the Florida climate.
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