Keith Mullins, long time Clermont resident, former City Council member and owner/operator of Bacchus Vino Etcetera, was the featured speaker at the May meeting of the South Lake County Historical Society. Everyone in attendance can tell you that, if you ever want to know anything about the history of winemaking in America, Florida in particular, just ask Keith! He shared fascinating information from the very first wine made in America—French Huguenots living near St. Augustine—to the establishment of Lakeridge Winery in Lake County.
The gentlemen who founded the parent company of Lakeridge started in Tallahassee and were not the first to see that area as good place to produce wine. In fact, the American Revolutionary hero, the Marquis de Lafayette, owned 16 square miles of land there and sent French peasants to grow olives, mulberries & grapes. Then in the late 1800’s early 1900’s Emile Du Bois tried his hand at winemaking in the panhandle. The parent Company of Lakeridge has Lafayette in its name and one of Lakeridge’s white wines was named after Mr. Du Bois—Blanc Du Bois.
Keith’s work with wine started in Michigan and then he moved his family to Tallahassee where he worked for several years and eventually to Clermont where he worked at and helped name Lakeridge Winery. Fifteen (15) years ago, he left Lakeridge and opened his shop in the historic downtown shopping district. Now a fixture in Clermont, the wine shop is well known for its selection of wines and accessories as well as its bimonthly Wine Walks which have been going on for 7 years and involve as many as 33 locations.
If you are interested in history in general or the history of Lake County in particular, contact the South Lake County Historical Society by going to our website, ClermontVillage.org; by calling Roxanne Brown, Village Manager, at 352-593-8496; by emailing her at email@example.com; by touring the Historic Village any Saturday or Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm; or by attending our membership meetings which are held on the second Monday of the month at 7:00 PM in the Train Depot in the Historic Village, 490 West Ave., not far from Clermont’s historic downtown shopping district. The next meeting and the last before the fall is on June 11.