According to historians, St. Augustine is believed to be the birthplace of American wine dating back to 1562. And so it only makes sense that one of the country’s premier wineries, San Sebastian Winery, would call the Nation’s Oldest City home.
Founded in 1996, the San Sebastian Winery is located in one of Henry Flagler’s old East Coast Railway buildings just a few blocks from historic downtown. Today, it remains the second largest winery in the state of Florida and is one of St. Augustine’s most visited attractions hosting some 150,000 wine enthusiasts each year. Before moving to its current location, San Sebastian Winery was originally formed in 1983 by the Cox family and was quickly established as a pioneer in the development of table, sparkling and dessert wines. The winery uses Florida-grown hybrid and Muscadine grapes to create vintage-dated varietals such as Stover and Blanc Du Bois.
Since opening its doors in 1996, the San Sebastian Winery has won more than 500 medals for its variety of wines made from Muscadine and hybrid bunch grapes indigenous to the southeast. From award-winning Blanc De Fleur and Blanc Du Bois to Castillo Red, Chablis and Cream Sherry, it’s no surprise that the San Sebastian Winery is a must-see when planning your St. Augustine vacation.
Open seven days a week, the San Sebastian Winery has a bit of something for everyone including guided tours, an extensive gift shop and a rooftop wine bar. And don’t worry if you’re traveling with kids; it’s family-friendly, too. However, while children are welcome, you must be 21 years or older to partake in the tastings.
Complimentary tours and wine tasting run about every 20-25 minutes, lasting approximately 45 minutes and are offered seven days a week. No reservations are required except for groups of 20 or more. Last tours are offered at approximately 5:00 p.m.
A San Sebastian Winery tour is an interesting and educational way to learn about the complete wine-making process. The tour includes a short film and guided walk of the 18,000-square-foot wine production facility where you will discover the ins and outs of everything from barreling to bottling. After the tour, head over to the Winery’s gift shop where you can purchase bottles to take (or ship) home as well as peruse a variety of wine accessories and gift items such as gourmet foods and glassware.
Finally, head to The Cellar Upstairs Wine, Jazz & Blues Bar. Open during the weekend, this unique venue offers San Sebastian wine, a variety of beer and light appetizers. There’s also an eclectic mix of live music and spectacular views of the San Sebastian Winery from the open-air deck. It’s a favorite amongst both locals and tourists.