A Closer Look: Monticello Vineyards & Winery
|October 17, 2012||Posted by Kristopher under Farms, Wine|
As I traveled down an unfamiliar road in Jefferson County, I began to get excited. After all, this was my first trip to a real vineyard, and it was a Florida vineyard at that. As I pulled into the 50 acre farm, I was greeted by three black and white collies. Followed behind them was Cynthia Connolly, owner and operator of Ladybird Organics and Monticello Vineyards and Winery.
In the hour that I spent with Cynthia, I learned a lot about grape varieties, making wine and organic farming. Cynthia’s focus as a vintner and farmer is on creating a genuine, high-quality food product grown through organic principals. She started Monticello Vineyards & Winery in 1989, and the the vineyards have grown to cover ten of her 50 acre farm. Cynthia takes pride in growing 18 different varieties of organic muscadine grapes. The difference between many conventional wineries and organic wineries such as Cynthia’s is that they only use fresh grapes grown on the farm, not from other locations or frozen concentrate. This commitment to fresh grapes also allows her to bottle specific varieties as its own flavor. In some large commercial operations, several varieties may be mixed together to make a generic red or white wine. Instead, people who visit Ladybird can choose from 18 different wines, all hand-picked and processed onsite. Cynthia’s most popular variety is the Florida Red, but others include Ison, Alachua, Noble, Carlos, Welder and Magnolia, among others. Cynthia’s Magnolia wine was just named “Best Florida Wine” in Epicurious’ United States of Wine.
Cynthia certainly opened my eyes to the process and culture of winemaking in Florida and the importance and passion that comes with organic farming. If you are in the North Florida area this weekend, stop by Cynthia’s to say hello, learn a little about growing grapes and making wine and give the pups a belly rub on the 5th Annual New Leaf Market Farm Tour.
If you’d like to schedule a trip to the winery or purchase Cynthia’s wine, you can visit http://www.monticellowinery.com/.