Seacoast Vinology

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There’s something about living close to the sea—particularly those intoxicating tropical bits of paradise soaked up with a glass of swirling substance in hand. Seagrapes, or baygrape plants stay native to their roots near seaside beaches throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda and, yes, Florida. Wine is not actually made from the fruit of the Seagrape tree, but rather from the wine grapes grown in ocean-influenced vineyards and near coastal appellations. But Seagrape Wine Co. welcomes area aficionados and newbie imbibers alike to its brand new sector south of the Trail to enjoy its tasting lounge and retail shop stocked with top-shelf vintages and natural varieties from coveted peaks and valleys around the globe. 

Vino optimist and Seagrape Wine Co. owner Thomas Morgan seeks to uncork the nuances of natural wines and shine light on the trends breaking out in the winemaking industry at his newly built-out seaside retreat with an open space to socialize with friends and strangers about what they are drinking and buying. With a robust taste and knowledge for the craft of adult grape juice, his vocation is simple—to provide quality products and help steer exploratory imbibers toward handmade wines within their comfort zones (style and price).

“‘Natural wine’ is a term overused and underdefined in the current moment,” notes Morgan. “When I say natural wine, I mean wine fermented with its native yeast rather than a purchased set of yeasts—wine that is not encouraged to ferment by adding catalysts or yeast foods, and in general, is not manipulated.” With a growing fixation for healthier, organic lifestyle options, biodynamic and sustainable viticulture (cultivation of grapevines) has created quite the stir. And natural vs. conventional wine is starting to prevail with a "hands-off" approach, meaning minimal technological intervention like irrigation, letting the grapes grow and do their work sans pesticides and manufacturing the wine in bottles with little to no chemical ingredients, aka sulphites. “There is a lot of applied chemistry in the beverage business," Morgan says, "and my goal is to focus my shop, selection and conversations on wine made with traditional, ancient methods.” With a personal love for European wines, Morgan notes that most great California, Australia or Chilean winemakers will even admit they find inspiration in old-style European wines.

“Wine to me is not about varietals," he says. "We as American consumers like to know the varietal of a wine because it is a good substitute in our vocabulary for ‘flavor’ or ‘style’.” While guests will certainly find many different varietals of reds and whites at his cellar, conversation with Morgan will move quickly to geography and geology, rather than grape type. And icebreakers will likely start with 'what are you drinking and enjoying now?' or 'what have you had and liked that you are not finding any longer?' “It's about your taste and adventure," he says, "not mine."

Seagrape Wine Co.’s bar and shop promotes lingering and hanging around with a glass to sip and learn—centering itself around “open, non-judgmental conversations about the ever subjective topic of taste,” says Morgan. “Hopefully I can bring some fun back into this exploration and help folks feel good about the wineries and people they are supporting.” Just getting a little more connected to the process, the people, the history and the geography goes a long way. “Drinking ‘better’ does not mean you have to spend more," Morgan notes. "We shop at farmers markets and try to eat locally these days—we should be looking for provenance in our wine too."

Grand Opening and Open House today from 4pm-7pm. Discounted gift certificates for the holidays available.

Seagrape Wine Co., 4333 South Tamiami Trail, Unit F, Sarasota, 941-260-9717.

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