Last spring, I drove across the state to Coral Gables to spend the weekend with my niece, who was roundly pregnant at the time. A friend who knew I was headed to Miami had asked before I left, “Big party plans this weekend?” and I told him I’d be lucky if we left the house.
Nearly a year later, I was again visiting my niece—but a lot had changed. For starters, she has a baby at home, the sweetest, blue-eyed, dimpled little boy I’ve ever laid eyes on (of course, I’m biased). Another change? My niece is no longer the pleasantly drowsy, happy-to-relax-by-the-pool mom-to-be. No, this mama was ready to cut loose.
Her husband hadn’t been home 5 minutes before she’d handed over the baby, slung her purse over her shoulder and called on her way out the door, “Don’t wait up.” We were headed to the Schnebly Winery in Redland, outside of Homestead, a sprawling complex that sells its own exotic fruit wines, has multiple bars and on Friday nights offers karaoke.
Our first stop? The wine tasting.
“Good evening, ladies,” said the man behind the bar with a cockeyed grin.
He laid two sheets of paper on the bar, lists of the wines available to try, and told us to choose five each. We went down the list. There were none of the traditional varietals, no cabernet sauvignon or pinot grigio, but instead these wines were made with fruit from the Redland area—avocado, coconut, passion fruit, lychee, guava, carambola, mango.
My niece and I made a series of tick marks and passed him our lists.
“Good choices,” he said.
We sipped the first, a sweet avocado wine, like discerning connoisseurs. And we approached the second, a dry carambola rosé, with dignified civility. But by the third, an effervescent glass of sparkling lychee wine, we began to loosen up.
“This is de-lychee-ous,” my niece said, laughing at her own pun. She raised a glass to the bartender and he laughed, too.
We made short order of the next two on the list—CocoVino and Mango Dolce—and somewhere along the way the bartender must have forgotten we’d already had our five tastes.
“What are you having next, ladies?” he asked with a wink.
My niece and I looked at each other. “Passion fruit?” she asked.
“You got it.”
It was just the thing my niece needed to push her into the karaoke zone. She grabbed my hand. “Let’s go sing,” she said.
We took seats in the bar that overlooked the karaoke stage, and before her courage could leave her, my niece had added her name to the list. We waited through a nervy rendition of Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon and a sweet take on an Ariana Grande ballad, and then my niece was up onstage, microphone in hand, belting out the opening lyrics to Train’s Drops of Jupiter. Motherhood has made her bolder, I saw, and—frankly—it suited her. The audience loved it, clapping and cheering, joining in for the chorus. They gave her a wild ovation as she finished, and when she stepped off stage my niece was radiant.
Of course, a trip to the Schnebly Winery doesn’t have to involve a karaoke solo. There’s plenty to do without getting onstage, between the tastings and the gift shop and the restaurant, which is quite good. Plus, there are tours of the winery and the brewery. But the place lends itself well to a big night out, whether or not you have a baby at home.
If you go…
The Schnebly Winery is open every day. Tours of the winery are offered on weekends every hour on the hour from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday. Tours are $8 per person, and tickets are sold on a first-come basis in the retail room. Wine tastings are held throughout the day. The ultimate tasting costs $12.95 and includes a taste of five wines and a souvenir glass. 30205 SW 217th Ave., Homestead; (305) 242-1224; schneblywinery.com
The winery’s website offers regular weekend deals, where $35 gets you two ultimate wine tastings, two winery tours and two admissions to the night’s event (karaoke on Fridays, and live music on Saturdays).
Though true oenophiles might balk at Schnebly’s wines, the exotic fruit options offer a fun break from the usual standards. Don’t miss the sweet and full-bodied lychee wine, the winery’s most award-winning.