A winery in Englewood Florida? Yes! I have driven River Road. many times and have been intrigued with the small roadside sign for Catania’s Winery. Last week, my wife and I and some friends decided to stop by. The building is in a small strip mall in an industrial area. Not expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised by the facility. Having spent far too much time in Napa and Sonoma tasting rooms, this was eerily familiar. Entry is through a gift shop with all sorts of wine accoutrements, as well as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and winemaking supplies. The space is small but well fitted out. After you pass the gift area, you enter what appears to be a real winemaking facility. There were several 500 gallon fermenting/storage tanks and other winemaking equipment. There were several tables with stools for guests, and the tasting begins.
John Catania is the winemaker and owner. He presents small glasses and pours an ounce or two of Sauvignon Blanc. A few customers don’t care for whites but that’s no bother. He then proceeds to a Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay blend which he pours from one of the tanks. Both wines were pleasant and well structured. Before he pours reds, he offers tiny samples of olive oil followed by balsamic vinegar. Unfortunately there are no crackers or bread to cleanse the palate.
The reds that came next were Cabernet Sauvignon based with either Sangiovese or Amoroso as the blend. Both are substantial and full bodied with good mouth feel and finish. All wines are twenty-four dollars per bottle which seems pricey but that’s a personal opinion. My friend and I had never heard of Amoroso but John said it was the grape of Amarone (Italy).
John has been making wine for over forty years. Born in Italy, he made wine in Canada, then in Connecticut, and now in Florida. There are no vineyards nearby so his wines are sourced from grapes he ships in from California or Washington state. Grapes are then made into wine on the premises. In addition he sources fruit from Canada which he uses to add complexity to the wines.
John is a most interesting man, charming and informative. When we asked about the blend percentages, he declined saying it was not to divulge. Also, do not get him going on Florda regulators. That is another story.
The only downside here is the tasting fee of twelve dollars per person which he did not waive when we purchased wine. Although the tasting glasses were complimentary. Also he has only one label for red, so only the foil will dictate which blend it is. I had to call back to identify the wines.
In addition, John sells homemade sausages, winemaking equipment, teaches winemaking classes and caters events.
Catania’s Winery, LLC 524 Paul Morris Dr. Ste. B, Englewood, FL 34223 941 475 7553
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