Summer Crush Vineyard and Winery in Fort Pierce, FL
Photos by Kelsey & Scott Walters
Day Trips in Florida
While the rest of the country may have to wait a little bit longer to bask in the sun of “official” summer, here in Florida we have already been feeling the heat. Summer Crush Vineyard and Winery in Fort Pierce expertly pairs the fun of a sunny Floridian day with the perfect drinking buddy – wine!
Normally, when you think of a winery, you think of uptight connoisseurs swirling their glasses and talking about wine’s “legs.” Summer Crush takes out all stuffiness and infuses both their wine and their atmosphere with the upbeat tastes of summer.
History of Wine Making in Florida
The winery opened in July of 2012, but Florida’s history in wine making goes much deeper. Most people think of California when it comes to wine and are usually surprised to find that Florida is sixth in the nation in wine production. Much of the eastern United States began attempts at growing grapes and making wine shortly after settlements cropped up, but failed time and time again with the foreign crops. Even New Smyrna Beach had its turn as a vineyard and winery as Dr. Andrew Turnbull made a failed attempt with Greek grapes.
It wasn’t until 1565 just outside of Jacksonville when someone had the bright idea to work with the native plants instead of struggling to integrate foreign grapes and created wine from the native muscadine grapes. In fact, the first vineyard in the New World was located near Tallahassee, and a truly Floridian drink was born.
Florida Vineyard and Winery’s Laid Back Summer Atmosphere
Summer Crush owner, Gary Roberts (pictured above), has long-standing roots in Florida as well. Like many Florida natives, Gary began surfing as a kid and started a collection of vintage surfboards and memorabilia – some of which is housed on-site for display. Ironically, Gary was never much of wine-drinker before opening the winery. He tried muscadine wine and discovered he really enjoyed it, deciding after years as a nursery owner to grow and make his own endless supply of his favorite wines.
You may be thinking, why would I drive all that way down south to sip some wine and leave? But Summer Crush isn’t just a bar, it’s an experience that keeps people coming from all over Florida (and beyond) time and time again. A day of fun is evident when you’re greeted with a giant sunglasses-sporting palm tree when you arrive!
What You’ll Find at Summer Crush Vineyard and Winery
You can grab a glass of your choice of the numerous wines made on-site, draft and bottle beers and ciders or sit back and relax with a drink special. I dove in to an aptly named Summer Crush, a white wine slushy topped with an apple/orange hard cider (pictured below). The slushies can be enjoyed on their own as well or you can nom on a wine-infused popsicle to cool off.
Things to Do at Summer Crush Vineyard and Winery
Most weekends offer even more to do to make this a full-day immersion into the winery. Weekly live music takes the stage in the massive outdoor pavilion. You can grab your drink of choice and sip back and relax in an assortment of eclectic picnic tables, wine barrels and surf board tables. Grab a board game to bring back to your table or try your hand at a number of lawn games adjacent to the 10-acre vineyard, including bocce ball and cornhole.
Take a tour of the wine cellar and learn the rich history of Florida wine making, as well as the ins and outs of the wine making process – all done on-site. You can stroll the vineyards, which are handpicked at peak ripeness for the very best flavor over the course of several weeks in August. They are then frozen until June, crushed in the summer and cold-fermented for the best quality wine possible.
If you really want to see what sets this boutique winery apart, sign up for a tasting. For less than $10, you can taste an assortment of white, blush, red and fruit wines as well as pure muscadine grape juice.
Since Floridians really love their wine, especially a local product, the vineyards can’t keep up with the production demand. Summer Crush blends muscadine grapes from other Florida vineyards, keeping it all truly fresh from Florida, to create some of their bottles. A few of them, like That’s What She Said sweet red, are available as both a blend of grapes and a special “estate” bottle made entirely from the vineyard’s own grapes. If you get the chance to taste both varieties of the same flavor, even the non-“connoisseurs” will be able to taste the difference and the care and attention to quality put into the vineyard’s grapes. We loved it so much, we took home two bottles!
Yoga in the Vines is offered on Saturdays and monthly car shows are held in the vineyard. On the weekends, food trucks offer sustenance to keep you fueled all day. A special Father’s Day car show will be held on June 16 and the winery celebrates their seventh anniversary with a giant Surf Fest and Car and Surf Board Show on July 14. Find a calendar of events on their website.
With so much to do in a relaxing and laid-back, beach-vibe atmosphere, it’s easy to see why Floridians flock to the vineyard to crush it all summer long!
Summer Crush Vineyard and Winery
Tue – Fri: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sat: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sun: 12 – 5 p.m.; closed Mon
Tastings (21+): $6 w/ disposable cup, $8 w/ souvenir glass