Homestead, Florida is a remarkable place. I wrote about my dad’s 1992 visit to Homestead following Hurricane Andrew, the third time the city had been decimated by hurricanes. As this resilient city has since recovered following Andrew 28 years ago, my visits have been very different.
Homestead is home to the Homestead Air Reserve Base, and located between two national parks, Biscayne to the east and Everglades to the west. In addition to access to these South Florida national parks, it is also gateway to the Florida Keys. U.S. Highway 1 runs from the Canadian border in Maine 2369 miles down to Key West, the southernmost point of the continental Unites States. Homestead is right along this major north-south route.
On the drive down to the Everglades, I noticed the sign along the 9336 for a winery. I couldn’t make out the name as I was focused on the road, but my interest was piqued. Living in California, I have been to a few wineries, but I’ve never visited one in Florida. In truth, until this trip, I hadn’t associated Florida with grape-growing or winemaking; however, I have since learned that Muscadine grapes are native to Florida, and with the fertile soil and abundance of heat and water, many tropical fruits also grow well. This is perfect for vinifying some delicious fruity wines.
I paid a visit to the Schnebly Redland’s Winery and Brewery. Located five miles from Route 9336 in the middle of the agricultural fields, it is a bit off the beaten path, but it is definitely worth checking out. The Schnebly winery was the first to create wines using only tropical fruits, combining flavors of lychee, guava, carambola, and mango. There is even an avocado wine, their unique AvoVino. The brewery, Miami Brewing Co., boasts brews that are ‘vacation in a beer.’ Most of their offerings are lighter beers such as their golden “Shark Bait Mango Wheat” and “Beachy Lychee” ale-juice blend. There is one dark brew, a chocolate coffee flavored American brown ale called “Gator Tail.” Schnebly’s offers both wine and beer tasting flights. The wine flight includes five pours and a souvenir glass, the beer flight is four pours and a favorite pint to finish. The outside dining area features tiki huts and a lush tropical waterfall scene. While there, I picked up a bottle of the Schnebly Beach Rose to bring home. This dry sweet wine has flavors of guava and citrus, with light floral notes. We’ll see if it actually makes it home.
Robert Is Here is a popular, family owned and operated fruit stand on the side of Highway 9336. I stopped here in hopes of finding some sugar cane, unfortunately it wasn’t the right season for it. Nevertheless, I was glad I stopped. Robert Is Here has an extensive selection of tropical fruit milkshakes and smoothies, along with a variety of jams, dressings, and hot sauces. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs are largely locally grown and can change daily. I opted not to pick up any fruit. It would have been nice to bring home some key limes, however there are restrictions on bringing produce into California from other states, and all citrus are on the prohibited list. Instead, I bought some jalapeno jelly for my guys and a key lime milkshake to enjoy on the drive back to Miami. The shake was delicious! The sharp tartness of the key limes gave way to a creamy sweetness and made for a nice afternoon treat.
After starting out as a small roadside fruit stand, Robert is Here is now a tourist attraction. There is a menagerie of birds, along with a play area and picnic tables. In normal circumstances, there would be live music on the weekends. On the Saturday I went, we were still in the middle of the Covid19 crisis, so the party atmosphere was much more subdued. Still the fruit stand was very popular and the line to place an order was really long. The employees were very friendly and knowledgeable about the day’s offerings. If you’re in Homestead and want some locally grown fresh fruit or need an after-Everglades snack, Robert Is Here is your stop.
There is more to do in this city whose major sources of income are agriculture and tourism. If you have the time, Miami-Dade County’s Fruit and Spice Park is a unique tropical park. This botanical garden is home to over 500 varieties of fruits, nuts, and spices of commercial importance. Admission is $10 for adults and $3 for children over six. The park is open from 9 am-5 pm everyday except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I recommend a visit to Homestead when in the area, either as a day trip to explore the city, or as a side trip when on the way to the national parks. For me, it was a refreshing stop along our happy trails!
For more information, check out VisitFlorida.com.
Schnebly Wineries delivers to California, as well as Arizona, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Texas, Wyoming, DC, and of course Florida. For wine tasting, reservation info, or ordering, visit Schnebly Redlands Winery.
The daily menu for Robert Is Here can be found online. Orders are placed in person, not online, but looking at the menu beforehand can make ordering faster, and keep you from going overbudget. At time of writing, service is drive thru only, thanks to the Covid, but you can get out and enjoy the picnic area if you’re eating your treats.
For more information and pretty photos of what’s in bloom at the Fruit and Spice Park, visit RedlandFruitandSpice.com.