Florida is the third largest state in terms of wine’s economic impact—after CA and TX, and ahead of NY—not because of its wine industry, but rather its large population and wine consumption, which boosts the wholesale and retail sectors. For perspective, the wine industry’s impact in CA comes in at $88.1 B, TX at 20.3 B, and FL at $15.2 B, just edging out NY at $14.9 B.
Florida’s wine-producing industry is vastly smaller and different than these other states, but is also fascinating in its diversity. I always loved judging at the former Florida State Fair International Wine Competition (essentially killed by Covid, like some others) because of the wines that I wouldn’t taste anywhere else: Blueberry, Carambola (star fruit), Grapefruit, Jalapeno, Key Line, Kiwi, Mango, and of course Orange. There were also lots of aromatic and flavorful grape wines made mostly from Muscadine varieties which thrive in the hot, humid climate.
True Blue Winery in Davenport is a great example and a fun place. While it is built mostly around Blueberry wines (Semi-Dry, Semi-Sweet, and Sweet), it also offers Citrus, Orange, Peach, and Muscadine (red and white) to round out a rainbow of flavors. Owners and winemakers Howard and Fatima Gill also have a great Bistro featuring brick oven pizza and an assortment of tasty dishes.
Great Grapes: Carlos and Noble
These two Muscadine grapes are siblings, and both the white Carlos and red Noble are delightful, starting with their intensely floral aromas to the mouth-filling flavors which turn the palate to neon. While my first introduction was at the Florida competition, over time, at my urging, some wineries have entered them in other major competitions where they often receive Gold medals (especially those from Lakeridge Winery, with winemaking whiz Jeanne Burgess). Great wine can be made from all types of grapes as long as they’re varietally representative, well balanced, and tasty.
Florida Economic Impact
Total Impact includes the Direct, Supplier, and Induced levels reaching from vineyards to local communities, benefiting people and places far and wide
Total Impact: $15.2 Billion
Direct: $6.02 Billion (40%)
Supplier: $4.04 Billion (26%)
Induced: $5.14 Billion (34%)
Wine Producers: 104
Wages: $5.4 Billion
Tourist Visits: 298,391
Tourist Expenditures: $101.3 Million
Total Taxes: $1.379 Billion
Federal Taxes: $946.9 Million
State and Local Taxes: $432.9 Million