In the Shadow of the Mouse

Secrets of a theme park obsessed local who lives next door to Mickey, with annual passes to every Central Florida park

Want to make like Lucy? Stomp grapes, enjoy vino at Lakeridge Winery in Clermont

b22When you think of the comedy classic “I Love Lucy,” the grape stomping episode probably runs neck and neck with the chocolate factory as one of the series’ most iconic scenes. Have you ever wanted to live it out for yourself? Head over to Lakeridge Winery and Vineyard in Clermont this summer, whip off your shoes and socks, and have at it.

The 24th Annual Harvest Festival runs from June 20 to 22. Besides daily grape stomping contests, it features a wide variety of food, crafts, and musical entertainment. And, of course. there’s the wine. Lots and lots of it. Head into the cool, shady winery, brandish your glass, and stroll from barrel to barrel as you taste each of the delicious wines that Lakeridge has to offer.

If you’d like an overview of the festival, including yours truly stomping her little heart out, check the video below, which was filmed last year. I warn you, the stomping is much harder than it looks, especially in the summer Florida heat. Thank goodness things are automated these days:

Many of the Lakeridge wines are on the sweet side, which is just fine with me. I’m a big fan of Blanc Du Bois, a crisp, refreshing white, but Proprietor’s Reserve is oh so sweet and intense. Even if you don’t visit during the festival, the winery is open for tastings every day. You can learn about its history and the basics of wine making, then sample the vintage for yourself.

b23There’s also a second chance to play Lucy at the 20th Annual Harvest Grape Stomp, which takes place on August 16 and 17. The winery hosts a variety of other events, from Jazz and Blues concerts to a summer music series, throughout the year. The full schedule is on the Lakeridge website, with something happening just about every month.

I highly recommend visiting Lakeridge, even when there’s no event. Just learning about the wine making process and getting to taste the various wines is reason enough to head out to Clermont for a fun, low-key morning or afternoon. The winery might be less than an hour away from Walt Disney World, but it’s a world away from the glitz and glitter and tourist traps. You’ll be amazed that there’s a rolling vineyard so close to the theme parks, out amidst unspoiled forest and orange groves. It’s a rare glimpse at the real Florida.

Here’s a quick tour of the winery with winemaker Jeanne Burgess, who actually named the Blanc Du Bois grape variety:

Lakeridge Winery is very easy to get to. Depending on your starting point, just take 192, I-4, or the 429 toll road to Highway 27, then head due north and keep driving. If you’re a wine lover, or if you’re just looking for a low key change of pace from the crowded, intense theme park summer that’s just around the corner, it’s well worth the trip.

Follow me on Twitter via @themeparkwriter and stay tuned for more tips, observations, comments, and rants from someone who lives close enough to Walt Disney World to hear the fireworks from her house every night. I literally write my blog  In the Shadow of the Mouse.

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