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San Sebastian Winery: A Taste of Spain in St. Augustine

The history of wine in Florida began long ago, even before renowned scholar and author William Shakespeare was born—that’s more than four centuries ago. In St. Augustine, Spanish monks and French Huguenots started a winemaking tradition that dates back to the 17th century.

This tradition has continued to date, with the winemakers of St Augustine and particularly San Sebastian doing what they do best: making authentic, traditional Spanish and French wine.

Using a blend of the native Muscadine grapes and Florida hybrids, they employ age-old techniques to create a unique wine for contemporary wine lovers. The final blend is usually wine that brings joy and satisfaction.

A family-owned business, San Sebastian Winery was established in 1996 and is managed by long-time grape-growing family, the Cox, headed by renowned vintner Gary Cox and his son Charles Cox. They are among the pioneers of grape and winemaking business in Florida. San Sebastian is one of the two wineries owned by the Cox family, including the Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards in Clermont, Florida.

More About San Sebastian Winery in St. Augustine

San Sebastian Winery is located along the San Sebastian River, which inspired its name. It's also located a few meters from downtown St Augustine, the iconic town whose history is shrouded in piracy and winemaking. The location of San Sebastian Winery is both symbolic, based on the history of winemaking in Florida, and ideal for wine tasting.

The winery lies on an expansive 18,000 square feet winemaking facility, part of which comprises the 1923 Florida East Coast Railway building. Inside San Sebastian’s warehouse is a 40,000-gallon wine storage capacity, including a 5000-gallon stainless steel tank and 52-gallon oak barrels. Additionally, the winery has two separate wine tasting rooms where guests and tourists can taste a variety of native wines, plus a retail shop where you can purchase all manner of merchandise. Upstairs there's, a rooftop bar where local artists perform live music on the weekends.

Besides wine tasting, there's an endless supply of fun things to do at San Sebastian Winery. A visitor will find vineyards to tour and enjoy the lush vines heavy with ripe or maturing grapes. There’s also a rooftop bar from where you can lounge and enjoy the beautiful view.

San Sebastian Winery Tours

The San Sebastian Winery tour takes you from the retail shop through the expansive winery. The tour begins with a video introducing the history of winemaking in Florida. From there, expert guides give professional insights on grape growing, wine production, and everything else pertaining to wine. During these tours, visitors get the opportunity to see how port and cream sherry is bottled up, how storage is done using magnificent barrels plus other age-old wine production equipment and artifacts.

San Sebastian Winery tours are conducted daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5.00 pm, with each tour lasting about an hour. When visiting the winery, you can show up any time since you don't need to make prior reservations.

Wine Tasting at San Sebastian Winery

But the best part of a San Sebastian Winery tour is wine tasting. An expert guide is assigned to each guest, explaining the intricate details of each wine, which grapes it's blended from, the production and blending procedure, plus which meals to have with each wine. They'll share some wine sprucing tips like adding frozen fruit in your wine to cool it down, plus other creative ideas.

Aerial view of USA Downtown Skyline in St Augustine Florida

The Rooftop Bar: The Cellar Upstairs And So Much More

On weekends beginning Friday, the rooftop bar, The Cellar Upstairs comes alive as local live bands perform native Florida music while beer and wine flow all weekend long. The drinks are served with various appetizers consisting of meat, cheese, salads, sandwiches, and platters.

Finally, the retail store offers just about anything you'd want to take home with you from a tour of such a historical winery. There's a variety of wines of different tastes and quantities. There's unique glassware; find cookbooks for diverse historical cuisine; there's jelly, jam, desserts, dips, and dressings of different flavors. Check out branded t-shirts, and wine storage artifacts. At San Sebastian, their motto is "Enjoy a taste of history," which is the ultimate San Sebastian Winery and St Augustine experience.

Ready To Go On A Wine Tasting Tour?

The San Sebastian Winery operates on a philosophy of fun and satisfaction, which they strive to offer every visitor who goes on a tour of the winery. Visit the winery and enjoy a fun-filled wine-tasting experience any day of the week. The winery opens on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On weekends beginning Fridays, it’s open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and features live bands performing at the Cellar Upstairs.

So are you ready to go on a wine tasting experience and enjoy a piece of history? Enjoy the best of St. Augustine. Happy tasting!

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