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Bottled in Tampa Bay: 10 local wineries and breweries that can wet your whistle

Beer pubs and wine bars are all the rage around the area these days. But if you'd like to take your love of fermented frivolity one step farther, consider going straight to the source of your icy inspiration. Here are some cool breweries and wineries around the bay area that offer up a chance for a fresh glass of homemade hooch. Contact each business to determine operating hours, prices and tour availability.

Keel & Curley Winery

Blueberries ... for wine! Don't fret — you won't turn into Violet Beauregarde after a sip of Keel & Curley's signature flavor. Today features a happy hour from 5-6 p.m. 5210 W Thonotosassa Road, Plant City, (813) 752-9100, www.keelandcurleywinery.com

Dunedin Brewery

Sure, you can buy their beer at retailers across the state, but wouldn't you rather visit them in person? If the brewery's festive Snug Pub doesn't give you the proper buzz, just turn to their handcrafted batches of Nitro Stout, Apricot Wheat Ale and nearly a dozen other cleverly named flavors. 937 Douglas Ave. Dunedin, www.dunedinbrewery.com

Florida Orange Groves and Winery

Mangoes, oranges, grapefruits and tangerines. Here that means citrus wine, not fruit salad. Think of it as your daily dose of vitamin C — with a nice kick. 1500 Pasadena Ave. S., St. Petersburg, 727-347-4025, www.floridawine.com

Empire Winery & Distillery

Looking for higher octane offerings? That's the spirit! In addition to wine, Empire makes award-winning vodka as well as liqueurs made from Florida oranges, limes and -- watch out Danny DeVito -- lemons. Sample America-made versions of European-classic liquors, good enough to have you pledge allegiance to the distillery. 11807 Little Road, New Port Richey, (727) 819-2821, www.empirewineryanddistillery.com

Tampa Bay Brewing Co.

Why just drink beer when you can eat it? This Ybor City brew pub's menu is heavy on beer-enhanced items. (Sorry, no deep-fried beer on a stick — yet!) 1600 E Eighth Ave. (Centro Ybor), Tampa, (813) 247-1422, www.tampabaybrewingcompany.com

Florida Estates Winery

For those who bleed orange and blue, now you can drink it, too. A University of Florida hybrid grape is the ingredient of choice here. But if you want a sip of the head wine-maker's favorite elixir, ask for Casa Del Sol Strawberry Port. 25241 State Road 52, (813) 996-2113, www.floridaestateswines.com

Yuengling Brewery

Laverne & Shirley don't work here, but give us any chance to visit a big brewery, we'll take it. The only way to get beer samples at Yuengling (pronounced "Ying-Ling"), though, is to take a tour of the brewery. What a buzz-kill! 11111 N 30th St., Tampa, (813) 972-8529, www.yuengling.com

Tarpon Springs Castle Winery

The winery opened in 2004 after owners Diana and Joe Marks spent more than six years building a replica of an 1820s federal-style building, like the kind found in Charleston, S.C., and crafting their wine. This is a winery, but they don’t grow grapes here, instead importing their favorite grapes from the wine countries across North America. The owners are chatty and happy to show guests around. Their best seller is a riesling called Tarpon Springs Traditional, and the slow European process makes a chardonnay that is almost as clear as water, with a crisp clean taste. Looking for a gift? Check out the country market with Florida-made gourmet sauces and jellies, select a wine and other specialty items. They’ll put together a gift basket for you free of charge.

320 Tarpon Avenue, Tarpon Springs. (727) 943-7029, tscwinery.com. Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Bottled in Tampa Bay: 10 local wineries and breweries that can wet your whistle 10/03/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 1:19pm]

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