If you Google the phrase “Urban Winery”, you’ll get over 4 million responses. When most people think of an urban winery, they think of something like a storefront where you can go to make your own wine in small batches. Or perhaps a larger facility that has a tasting room and a retail store. The grapes in such places are bought from any of several winemaking regions. You can find Urban Wineries from New York City to Seattle and back again. Virtually all of them truck in grapes (or maybe concentrate) and actually make the wine from start to finish on the premises. Many of them offer their customers the opportunity to make their own wine.
Quantum Leap Winery in Orlando, Florida takes a different tack. Owned by professionals from the wine and food business, they bring in wine from all over the world and blend, cellar and bottle it at their facility. They are very concerned about carbon footprint and other environmental impacts, so the wine does not arrive at Quantum Leap in bottles. It arrives in bags. Think of wine in a box on steroids. Wine in a box on a retail shelf is not really in a box, it is in an airtight plastic bag. At Quantum Leap, the wine arrives in crates holding several hundred gallons of wine. The wine is in an airtight plastic bag inside the crate. It is then blended, stored/aged in either stainless steel or old oak, and bottled. The idea of lessening a carbon footprint is a good thing, but there is another advantage. Glass bottles are as heavy as the wine inside them (sometimes heavier), so shipping without glass saves a lot of money in shipping costs. When bottling, the bottles they use are as thin as safely possible, so the finished wine weighs less when it ships out.
As to the wines, they are quite good. At present, they offer wines from Veneto, Italy, South Africa, Oregon, and California. Here is an example of how they do their blending. The Italian wines from Veneto are from valley grapes and mountain grapes. Four different varieties as I recall. The individual wines are blended in such a way as to have two completely different finished wines from the same area. They also have two Reserve wines that are exceptional. An Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, and a Chalk Hill area Cabernet Sauvignon. The reserve wines are not what we call “good wine cheap” at Avoid Bad Wine, but they are excellent and available by the glass as well as by the bottle.
When I first heard of Quantum Leap Winery, I was glad to hear that they were NOT using native Florida grapes. There are quite a number of successful wineries in Florida that make wine from Muscadine grapes. Not to be a snob, but wine made from Muscadines is not my cup of tea. The people at Quantum Leap have a contact in the agricultural department at the University of Florida in Gainesville who is experimenting with Florida grown vinifera grapes. Quantum Leap has a few barrels of a Florida grown Pinot Noir derivative, which apparently cannot be called Pinot Noir, aging right now in their winery. I will be keeping an eye on this.
In addition to wanting to distribute their wines in Florida and Georgia, they will be available in restaurants and at the winery’s tasting room. The tasting room is a large, welcoming area suitable for art shows and a monthly “wine down” with live music and food trucks. They also have an area designed for private events that is bordered on 2 sides by wine barrels stacked 3 high. The facility was once a warehouse, and it is located in an area that is mostly commercial and office, with residential only a couple of blocks away. It is what Central Floridians would call the real Orlando, as opposed to the tourist corridor.
Although there seems to be a trend toward urban wineries, Quantum Leap is approaching it differently. Interesting blends from different places in a very cool setting just a mile or so from Orlando’s Ivanhoe antique row. It is worth a look if you live in the area or are looking for a respite from the theme park crowds. www.quantumleapwinery.com