Bottoms Up: The Liquor & Wine Business In South Florida

Mar 16, 2014

Miami Club Rum began distilling in the Wynwood neighborhood in 2012. Founder and CEO Matt Malone uses Palm Beach County sugarcane byproducts and Miami-Dade County public water to make his rum.
Credit Tom Hudson

South Florida may not have the valleys and vineyards of Napa Valley nor the hollows and oak barrels of Kentucky but the wine and liquor industry is here in its own unique way.  Think mango wine not chardonnay, rum not bourbon and you've got the idea.  

South Floridians can talk about rum the way oenophiles go on about wine. There are the aromas of the rum, the notes and the finish. There may be hints of chocolate, berries or citrus.  For many outside of South Florida rum means one company: Bacardi.  

The world's largest family-owned spirits company bases its sales and marketing unit in Coral Gables.  And for good reason.  Florida is responsible for more than 10 percent of Bacardi USA's total rum sales.  But the Florida market is special with the influences from traditional rum sources in the Caribbean and Latin America.  The rum market is growing more sophisticated here, something Bacardi USA's Toby Whitmoyer talks about with WLRN's Americas editor Tim Padgett in this edition of The Sunshine Economy.  Tim also visits with South Florida's Burr family, the force behind the Miami Rum Fest to hear about what they are calling the rum revolution.

Karen Rundlet heads to the southernmost winery Schnebly Redland's Winery and Brewery.  With no grapes to be found at the winery, it's mangos, guavas and avocadoes that Peter Schnebly has built his winery on.  Those and wine tours.

So what'll ya have?  Tweet your favorite wine or cocktail to @WLRN, #SunshineEconomy.  Belly up and bottom's up.