Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Where the Wine Experience Is Tops

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Where the Wine Experience Is Tops

Article excerpt

Byline: LAURA CAPITANO

ST. AUGUSTINE - Need a reason why you should visit the San Sebastian Winery? How about 10 reasons?

- In an area riddled with parking shortages, San Sebastian is one of the rare places in downtown Augie Doggie to have its own ample, free parking.

- Winery tours and tastings are as free as the parking and easy on the attention span - you'll be finished in under an hour.

- Staff is mighty jolly at that place, contributing to a casual, approachable winery experience that won't intimidate any novices.

- You'll learn fun wine lingo like "The Mother Batch": The 10-year-old magical liquid toward the bottom of each Port barrel that is continuously retained and used to spawn the next batch of Port.

- Following a three-stop tour of the wine-making facility, your tour guide herds your group to a tasting table for an unpretentious sampling of the wine list. The tour guide asks that you not taste your first pour until she runs through the five S-words of tasting: sight, swirl, smell, sip and (sometimes) spit. Then everyone toasts one another, and the pours continue.

- You can bring the kids on through, if you want. You might even get some grape juice in them - great antioxidants in that stuff.

- There aren't enough bars on roofs around town, I say, but San Sebastian has one! Open weekends-only for the season, The Cellar Upstairs Wine, Jazz & Blues Bar serves up the specialties of the house, as well as the go-to beers, plus a few imports. There are portable heaters up there and plenty of four-top patio tables, from which you can gaze upon our nation's oldest city while nibbling on a meat and cheese platter.

- There's music on that rooftop weekends from 2 to 5 p.m. This Saturday catch blues-roots-rocker Greg "SouLo" Lyons. Vinny Jacobs plays an afternoon acoustic rock block Sunday. San Sebastian's Web site even posts bios of its scheduled performers - helpful to those seeking out a particular music genre. …

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