Bringing Blueberry Lovers into the Peach Fold

blueberries-peachesKeel and Curley Winery Serves Up Peach-Themed Products and Agritourism Event

THE KEEL AND CURLEY WINERY started in 2003, when blueberry farmer Joe Keel had an idea for what to do with his end-of-season berries. In the Plant City farmhouse kitchen, he prepared his first batch of blueberry wine. Some experimentation and refinement resulted in three distinct blueberry wines. Now, more than 20,000 cases of wine are produced each year at the Keel and Curley Winery — with peach wine and other beverages added to the mix.

Blueberries, blackberries, and peaches are the bread and butter of agriculture operation turned tourist attraction. The onsite winery, cidery, and brewery keep the Keels plenty busy brewing their flavorful products. They feature them seven days a week for customers through their tasting room and Railcar 91 food truck, as well as with several themed festivals, each held annually. They have hosted a blueberry festival for almost a decade, Biertoberfest since 2012, and the Third Annual Peach Festival will be taking place in May 2017.

Alicia Keel says that it only made sense that they would add a peach festival when they began growing peaches. “We’ve always had a tradition of holding festivals for our harvests, so as soon as we had our peaches available we added a peach festival,” she says. There will be u-picks available, and customers are urged to come early as that tends to be a very popular sale. Despite the warmer winter weather trends, the peach harvest is expected to go well. Whatever blueberries and blackberries are leftover from their respective harvests also will be available.

The diversification into these related ventures makes the Keel and Curley Winery an agritourism destination with many attractions. The tasting room makes it easy for guests to try the array of beverages offered by Keel and Curley, including several peach-flavored beverages:

WINES – The blueberry wines that started the company come in three varieties: dry, semi-dry, and sweet. In addition to these classics are seven fusion wines that combine fruit juice, including a peach chardonnay.

CIDERS – Keel and Curley offers eight different ciders. The hard apple cider is brewed at the Two Henrys Brewing and blended with fresh fruit grown on-site or locally. Strawberry, mango, and peach are just a few examples. These ciders are made with fresh juices, not from concentrate, which distinguishes them from competitors.

BEERS – Two Henrys Brewing is the cider and beer branch of the Keel and Curley tree. Five craft beers and a rotating selection of seasonal craft beers means there is always something new to try in the tasting room, including a peach beer.

Having fields full of berries, grapes, and peaches gives Keel and Curley plenty to work with, and they make the most of it. They have even expanded into serving food this year with their Railcar 91 food truck. This provides even more opportunity for cross-use of products, with the ability to feature custom pairings seasonally on the menu.

Are there plans to expand into any more ventures soon? “No!” says Mrs. Keel. “Between having the winery, the cidery, the brewery, and then our own food and tasting room that’s open seven days a week, I think we’ve got a full plate.” And with growing consumer interest and demand of Florida peaches, a full plate of fresh offerings is what a hungry market calls for.

CREDIT

story by TERESA SCHIFFER