It used to be the location of a shipping and printing company. But if all goes as planned, 3901 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., will soon be a place to find merlot, not mailing supplies.
Land O’ Lakes Winery is making final plans to move into the location this week, and should be up and running in a few months. And after about a year of planning and permits, the owners are excited to start filling bottles.
“We’re pretty psyched,” said Sue Hardy, who owns the new winery with her business partner, Corey Kempton. “We’re getting so much positive feedback. The buzz is getting out there. I think it’s just one of those things where people want something like this, and there’s just nothing like it out here.”
More than just a place to purchase adult beverages, Land O’ Lakes Winery will feature do-it-yourself services where friends or families can come in and actually make their own wines under professional supervision and guidance. The company also will create several wines under its own label, and offer an area on-site where people can socialize and have a glass of wine or beer along with some food pairings.
The goal is to make the location a place where people can make, buy and try different wines while supporting a local business.
While Hardy is pleased with the company’s progress and eager to get the doors open, she admits that the business wasn’t automatically a shoo-in to get approved. Starting a business that includes the manufacture of wine and consumption of alcoholic beverages on-site meant getting conditional use approval from the Pasco County Commission, which they picked up late last year.
That decision clears the way for the company to offer what Hardy believes will be a unique and fun experience for area residents who might want to make wine, then gather for a wine tasting.
Creating their own wine might not be a common activity for wine lovers, but Hardy, who enjoys making her own, said it’s a rewarding one. Utilizing a community room, the kits provided will allow a group to make approximately 30 bottles of wine from a process that takes between six to eight weeks. And the wine they’ll create will not only be cost-effective when compared to buying similar quality from a traditional retailer, but should have a more prominent taste than they might find in store-bought wine.
“The quality of the wine you make is so much better. There are less sulfites,” Hardy said. “There’s a very distinct bite to store-bought wine, and it has to do with the preservatives that they have to use so that is has a longer shelf life.”
While the wines still contain sulfites as they have antioxidant and antibacterial properties, having a smaller amount leads to a smoother taste.
That taste also means a shorter shelf life: The wine people buy at retail outlets can be stored for decades, but Hardy said that wine made in a community room is best when consumed within about five years.
Customers also will be able to purchase the company’s own wine as well. While details have not been finalized, Hardy said they’ll probably begin with around 20 wines of their own, as well as other brands from other manufacturers.
The name of the company and the street on which it will be located are not coincidences. While opening day is still a few months away, Hardy wants to forge a strong identity with Land O’ Lakes in the minds of customers, and let them know that they’ll be supporting a local business with strong local ties.
“I think it’s a pride thing,” she said. “I think Land O’ Lakes has come a long way, and I don’t think it’s getting the notoriety it deserves.”
Published April 16, 2014
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