Quiet Corners of Wine in Fort Lauderdale

4.18pm, Chicago Downtown

Thursday, 15th October: Fort Lauderdale (on the Atlantic Ocean and home port to 42,000 yachts and 100 marinas and boatyards) Rewind

This was a very special day on the South Florida calendar, as it marks the start of the new stone crab season. All the traps were out and set by October 5th, but by law, the traps could only be pulled from sunrise on the 15th. There’s always a bit of a race between the locals to see who can be first to get the new season’s succulent sweet stone crab claws that South Florida is famous for onto their menu.

Interesting fact #12378 : When you harvest stone crabs, you take just the one claw off (bit tough on the live crab really) then pop them back in the water. Apparently it grows a new claw just in time for the next season.

So on day 1 of the new stone crab season, we had several accounts to catch up with, but I thought I’d catch you up on a couple of really interesting corners of the wine world that are hidden away in Fort Lauderdale.

First, The Pillars at New River Sound, one of the network of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, that sits right on the water, in this case the Intracoastal Waterway. The Pillars has 23 rooms and its own restaurant for in-house guests. It made me think of a small Raffles – lots of wicker furniture, palm trees, timber shutters and calico pool shelters. We had the opportunity to present some of our wines here for the first time, and we are pleased to report that several have made the list. Just for fun, Mark will be doing an event to kick off the wines arriving at The Pillars, where our wines and the Rhone equivalents will be presented blind in a “shootout” competition. We’ll let you know how we go.

Second, I want to tell you about Wine Watch. It’s an amazing cellar of wines of the world – curio large formats to classic vintage icons – stacked on top of each other in a chilled lower level of an old Spanish style, small double story “square” It’s in a semi dodgy part of town between the railroad and a crash repair shop. Never fails to amaze me where these little jewels in our industry’s crown pop up, but Wine Watch is definitely one of them. Owner Andrew Lampasone calls it “a very special wine boutique” and runs regular tastings with the food done by his wife – they run a catering company as well. We looked after a small group of Andrew’s customers – working them through 13 wines that really showcased Yalumba and the Barossa. Lovely evening, and a nice chilly place to hide out from the steamy South Florida weather – thanks very much for both to Wine Watch.

Cheap dinner at The Jerk Machine

Cheap dinner at The Jerk Machine

PS We ate before doing the tasting – good news for the company budget as dinner for the two of us cost $14 – with drinks! We dropped in to The Jerk Machine for home-cooked Caribbean – I had the jerk chicken with the revved up spicy red sauce, rice & beans smothered with brown stew chicken gravy, and baked plantains. Nice!

Day one of two in Fort Lauderdale – done!

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