The greenest vineyardBy Jen Ryan
When asked where the idea for a green, environmentally friendly winery came from, Larry Woodham simply says he and his wife have been "green since green was a color."
Today Woodham and his wife, Lenora, run Bunker Hill Vineyard in Manatee County, one of the mainstays of the Bradenton area's booming ecotourism sector.
"I know it sounds like an old cliche," Woodham says. "We've always been concerned about what we leave our kids and our grandkids."
Opened in 2010, the 23-acre "working farm winery" produces wine that is environmentally responsible and green--by today's modern definition.
How green is the winery?
The vineyard's main wine varietal, muscadine, is native to Florida and all its fruit wine--except for three--are produced from whole fresh fruit, either grown on-site or locally sourced. The manufacturing process features environmentally responsible equipment like glass carboys and an irrigation system without a water pump. And customers get involved too.
"We ask customers to bring everything back to us," Woodham says.
Wine bottles get sterilized and reused while the corks are sent to an American company to be recycled into cork tiles.
But eco-minded tourists will quickly discover that the vineyard's wine isn't just good for the environment--it's a unique (and tasty) wine experience.
"If you come here from [New England], you'd want to enjoy a wine made out of local soil," Woodham says.
And visitors will enjoy the abundance of choices. With 11 different wines, including two sparkling wines, and 19 different fruit wines, Bunker Hill Vineyard provides a taste of the Bradenton area and also represents best-in-class wine.
"All our wines are unfiltered wines," Woodham says. "The best wines of this planet are unfiltered."
Woodham considers the vineyard's standard-bearing wines its Foxy Red and Forest Keeper, but he recommends all visitors ask about the seasonal wines.
If you come down in May, get ready. We're going to try sweet potato wine. Or try some peach wine--from Florida peaches," Woodham says. "You can't imagine the expressions on people's faces when they try a wine and it tastes just like the fruit."
Depending on when they visit, wine enthusiasts may also get a taste of dandelion wine, mango wine, or even banana wine.
Ecotourism has never tasted so good.
Bunker Hill Vineyards is open daily 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. for tours and tastings. Group tours can book two days ahead to have hor d'ouvres included with their complimentary tour and tasting. Visit http://www.bunkerhillvineyard.com/ to plan your visit.
Jen Ryan can be reached at email@example.com.
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