PARRISH, Fla.—If you're looking for unique fruit and vegetable wines that happen to be vegan-friendly, this local winery is just for you.
Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery produces quality unfiltered wines in a green and sustainable way. Guests can stop by for wine tastings and learn about Bunker Hill's wine making process. You'll find more than just traditional red and white wine here—try flavors like strawberry, pineapple, dandelion flower petal, jalapeno, cherry tomato, sweet potato, bamboo, coffee wine, tea wine, and more.
Bunker Hill is a Certified Florida Farm Winery and Vineyard (there are currently only 16 in the state). Certified wineries must produce at least 60% of their wine from Florida-grown commodities—Bunker Hill produces about 97%.
Greenest Winery in America
The winery is owned by husband and wife Larry and Lenora Woodham. The couple knew from the beginning that they wanted to operate their business in the greenest way possible.
For the last 12 years, Bunker Hill has incorporated ways to be sustainable, including taking back wine bottles, corks and the wax that seals their bottles for recycling or repurposing.
"We've been open to the public now 12 years, and in this entire 12 years, we have never, ever purchased a single wine bottle," said Larry.
From the beginning, the winery has received wine bottles from the community and customers in order to reduce its carbon foot print. “Sixty percent of a winery’s carbon footprint is its wine bottle," said Larry.
Over the last 18 months, they have put over 100,000 wine bottles back in circulation.
The corks that Bunker Hill uses are real corks from the bark of a cork tree, which is natural and organic. Since the corks have holes in them when they are returned and the winery can't reuse them, they are shipped off to a company that turns them into cork tiles so that they don't end up in a landfill.
The winery seals their wine bottles with hot wax, and will take this back as well. When customers return the wax, the winery will melt it down and use it to seal their next batch of wine bottles.
When it's time to check out, guests can expect sustainable packaging as well. Bunker Hill asks for people to bring them their empty soda boxes, which they turn inside out and make into wine carriers. These boxes usually aren't the best to recycle because of the glossy film on the outside, so this is a creative way to reuse them.
The vineyard uses a drip irrigation system powered by solar panels, which basically uses gravity to water the grape vines, and only grows native plants (muscadine grapes, Florida citrus, etc) since they don't require as much water as plants that are imported here. They also don’t use pesticides or commercially produced fertilizers since they can have an effect on the produce.
Bunker Hill is one of the only wineries in America doing many of these green initiatives, and they hope to inspire others.
"If we could click our fingers...and make it happen tomorrow, we would have every winery in the state of Florida taking their empty bottles back, clean and sanitize them, and put them back into circulation," said Larry. "We would love to see that happen."
Unfiltered Fruit and Vegetable Wines
Bunker Hill uses whole fresh produce for their wines, all of which are unfiltered.
"What it means though is that nothing has been taken out of you wines, so nothing has had to be put back into it," said Larry. The flavor of the wine comes from the fruit or veggie it's made from. This also means Bunker Hill doesn't use juices or concentrates in their wines.
The wine sits for a year in a temperature-controlled wine cave before it is ever bottled. Unfiltered wine continues to age and gets better over time, lasting for around 20 years (most wine you'll find in the store will only last for around 5 years before it turns to vinegar).
Because Bunker Hill's wine is unfiltered and natural, it is also vegan-friendly. Most filtered wines use animal biproducts for the filtering process. There are vegan-friendly wine jellies, jams and marmalades available to sample and buy as well.
Bunker Hill's wine tastings are $6 per guest with a wine purchase. You'll get to select 5 wines to try and the owners will select a 6th wine as a wild card. Tastings are appointment only, which you can reserve online. Tours are currently unavailable due to Covid.
You can find the list of available wines here. Since Bunker Hill uses seasonal produce, they can run out of certain types of wine quickly, so feel free to call ahead to see what's in stock!
Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery is located at 8905 Bunker Hill Road. The winery offers a paid internship program that teaches you how to run a sustainable business (regardless of your major) and a 5% discount for American Combat Veterans. The vineyard also holds weddings, with a beautiful arch made from 450 recycled wine bottles. Newlyweds can get their name and wedding date carved into one of the arch's bottles and come back for a free vowel renewal ten years later.
To stay up to date on what's going on at Bunker Hill, make sure to check out their Facebook page.