A couple weeks ago, J. and I had the pleasure of heading out to Aspirations Winery for a wine tasting and tour. Tucked away in a small plaza off of US 19 in Clearwater, the outside of Aspirations looks a little inconspicuous, but this small family owned and operated business has so much to offer.
Inside, you’ll find a quaint little tasting room, with a large wooden bar for check in/serving wine, a handful of tables and a spattering of wine-themed decor. Through the large glass window you’ll get a glimpse of their production area, and over in the corner there’s a nice array of cheese, fruit, chocolate, and bread to pair with all of the wines you’ll try.
First, let me say, Bill, Brad, and Olga – the family staff – were so incredibly friendly, happy to help and make recommendations. You can tell they take a lot of pride in their business and want you to enjoy yourself. As part of our tasting, we got to try two recommended wines (their most popular) and then five wines of choice. They have a nice selection of classic reds and whites as well as fruit infused wines. Their two recommended wines are from each category: Swamp Juice – a light, smooth red with a Cabernet base and Category 5 – a sweet, tropical Riesling infused with flavors of pineapple, banana, mango, and guava.
My other five choices, leaned more towards the fruitier side. As Brad and Bill kept saying, “if you like the fruit, you’ll like the wine.” These fruit infused wines are definitely on the sweeter side, but I found them very unique, refreshing, and perfect for summer. They recommended to use the fruit infused wines for sangrias, wine spritzers (topped with club soda), and…wait for it…wine slushies! Yes, please!
J. and my favorites were the Poolside Blush (a raspberry White Zinfandel) and the Blueberry Shiraz. Both slightly sweet, slightly tart, and all delicious. On the classic side, I loved their Argentine Trio which was a Viognier/Riesling/Chardonnay blend that was fresh and balanced.
Their wines are all made from original recipes and hand crafted in small batches, which allows them to be low in sulphites (aka, no hangovers!) Their small batches also allows them to offer seasonal wines and personalized labeling for the bottles.
The tour in their production area was equally as great. Brad, our “guide,” was funny and knowledgeable, giving an entertaining overview of the wine making process from fermentation, to bottling, sealing, and labeling. I loved being able to go behind the scenes and see how they operate. It’s something you get to see at a lot of local breweries, but seeing the wine process was extra special.
Tampa Bay may be more known for the craft beer scene, but it would be regrettable to come out this way and not enjoy the wonderful experience Aspirations Winery has to offer. As they go into their busier season with extended hours, I look forward to making this micro-winery a favorite stop on the weekends.