San Sebastian Winery, the “original” American wine, offers free wine tasting and tours every 20-25 minutes everyday of the week from 10-6 (except Sundays: 11-6). The tour lasts about 45 minutes. It starts with a brief introduction of the winey and a short video that explains the harvesting process of grapes. The tour continues with a walk through some of the wine barrels and tanks, and then onto the tasting portion of the tour.
The grapes used in the wine making process at San Sebastian are muscat grapes, the “original” southeastern wine-making grape. It is in this same area and with this same grape the oldest records of wine-making exist in the US. This wine tour and tasting really is a trip back into history. The surrounding city, Saint Augustine, also has a very European feel. There is even a Spanish fort left from the 1600s, Castillo de San Marcos.
Our tour leader, Gal, was a lot of fun and very knowledgeable. At the tasting portion of the tour, you are able to try a good portion of the wines they have available — all for free! You are also given a list of the wines with small descriptions. I took notes while doing the tasting in order to remember which wines I liked best. I was most happy with the Blanc du Bois Reserve, Rosa, and Vintners Red. I was very pleasantly surprised with the cream sherry and port wines. Both of which are much stronger than regular wine (about 19% ABV). Although they are a bit stronger, they were both very smooth.
In addition to the wine tasting and tours, there is The Cellar Upstairs Wine, Jazz & Blues Bar as a part of the winery. Open only on the weekends, the jazz bar always has some form of live music along with a small menu. Of course, there is also a gift shop with all of the wines offered in addition to cheeses, crackers, and dips to pair with your wine.
Travel Tips: we went on our tour on a Thursday around 2pm in a non-peak tourist season, yet the tour was completely full! Just be mindful of the time in which you choose to go to the winery. The winery is definitely within walking distance of the city and is also a stop on the St Augustine trolley.