If you need assistance selecting that perfect bottle of wine, Keith Mullins can guide you through the unique collection of wines at his shop, Bacchus Vino Etcetera, located at 691 W. Montrose St. Clermont.

Keith, a long-time Clermont resident and former City Council member, is currently running for Mayor of Clermont.

The SOUTH LAKE TABLET had an opportunity to drop by Bacchus Vino Etcetera during a Wine Walk on Montrose. I was able to ask Keith about his journey to Clermont.

TABLET: Where were you born and raised?

Keith: I was born in Fort Worth, Texas.  My family moved to Amarillo, Texas when I was three years old and remained there until I was seventeen.

TABLET:  Tell me a little about growing up in Amarillo.

Keith:  I was active as a youth: Cub Scouts through Eagle Scout, played softball, football, ran distance in track, played Sousaphone in the band. The day after high school graduation I moved to Michigan (my dad had taken a new job, so I finished up during the summer after my junior year).

TABLET:  Amarillo to Michigan, That’s quite a change.

Keith:  I worked at a paper box factory for a year then matriculated at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Although I started as a full-time student, after two years I became part-time to allow for more working hours.

TABLET:  When did you meet your wife?

Keith:  It was during college, I met my future wife at a birthday party for a girlfriend of a fraternity brother.

Bacchus Vino Etcetera (Keith and Karen Mullins)

TABLET:  Karen and you fell in love, got married and had two beautiful daughters.  Nice.

Keith: It’s not easy working full time, raising a family, and pursuing a degree. I completed college in 14 short years.  It can be done!

TABLET: You own a wine shop.  Do you remember when you had your first sip of vino? Was it an AHA moment?

Keith:  My first wine was at Thanksgiving dinner at my uncle’s house. I was 17 and was open to trying anything. While in college one of my various jobs was making pizza. There was a winery just down the road that was offering $.10 an hour more money and full time/daytime work. Wine sounded more interesting than pizza, so I made the move in the summer of 1972.

TABLET: Tell me about your journey to Clermont?

Keith: Through my career I have managed warehouses, scheduled production and shipments, overseen a broker sales force, picked grapes, pressed grapes, cleaned up the mess after pressing grapes, managed retail rooms, sold wine at the wholesale level, taken on the responsibilities of general manager and controller, everything but winemaking. I was working in the wine industry in Paw Paw, Michigan when the opportunity presented itself to move to the wine industry in Tallahassee. We packed up the rental truck and headed for sunshine.

In 1987 the Tallahassee winery decided to expand and I was chosen to lead the new operation in Clermont. Summer of 1988, Karen and I chose Clermont to be our new home.

TABLET: When did you open Bacchus Vino Etcetera?

Keith:  In 2004, after our youngest daughter graduated from college, and I still had a few working years let in me, I left the corporate structure and opened a wine shop where people can calmly explore the fun side of wine. We offer wines not easily available in supermarkets and mass outlets. I am partial to smaller producers over global bottlers. I am a level 1 graduate of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

TABLET:  Do you have a favorite wine?

Keith:  My wife and I enjoy a variety of wines with meals and occasionally a beer with pizza.

Keith speaks at a Historical Society meeting.

TABLET: Would you like to share anything else with the Tablet readers?

Keith: Living in Clermont is a constant river of great memories, all involving the people of the community. Planting the trees at Palatlakaha park, cleaning trash out of Lake Minneola, passing out water to triathletes, Labor Day Festivals at JC Beach (now named Waterfront Park), Wine Galas to raise money for Hospice, performing in theatrical productions with family members. It’s about having fun with friends and doing something meaningful for others.

TABLET:  Do you have a favorite Super Hero Character?

Keith:  My parents were not fans of comic books (graphic novels) so I read biographies, the short stories of Mark Twain, and lots of hardcover books from the bookmobile. The history of the world is full of so many interesting real people, I would prefer them over the fictional ones. Somebody said, “Take life seriously, but not yourself.”

Get to know the candidates and vote. The primary election will be held on August 28 and the general election on November 6.

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