The Traveling Steve's

Happy 60th Birthday Steve (UNO)!

Note: This post was originally started on my birthday August 2nd, and now I’m finally finishing it up a month later! I’ve been busy at home catching up on quite a few things, and feeling lots better now from my recent pacemaker surgery.

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Wow – what can I say, I turned 60 years old today! Wow – wow – wow! I still feel like I’m 21 at heart, although the body has caught up with me, and defies my age! I got a jolt of reality when I went out to lunch today and saw this sign at the bar area:

A person born on my birthday in 2001 is 21 today! I was born in 1962;
where did the years go!

Steve (DOS) and I are celebrating my birthday with our good friends from Orlando, Ben and Tom, at The Villages, which is a little over an hour from Orlando.

Steve (DOS) and I checked in the Waterfront Inn at Lake Sumpter yesterday for two nights, and Ben and Tom are staying tonight as well. I wrote about the Waterfront Inn in the last post and previous year’s visits, but here’s a photo of it.

Our first stop on my 60th birthday was an early lunch in the Village of Spanish Springs. Spanish Springs was the original “Village Square” and development and is completely built out now and established as it’s own 55 + community. We met Ben and Tom there, and Tom treated the four of us to lunch at a Mexican restaurant located right in the Spanish Springs Village Square. Ben and Tom gave me a nice 60th birthday card, along with this huge balloon they made me walk around the Village Square with, as well predominantly displaying at our table in the restaurant, and later the wine bar.

After lunch, we strolled down the street to our next stop, The Corkscrew Winery and Bar, also in Spanish Springs. It was here that DOS and I got to make a couple cases of Malbec wine! We had been to The Corkscrew Winery a while back on a different visit, and learned about the wine-making projects they offered. I decided on that visit, I wanted to come back for my birthday and make some vino!

We had a reservation for the four of us for 2pm, and once we arrived, everything was setup and ready to go. We had a table in the back of the bar facing the wine-making setup, while we first ordered a drink to enhance our wine-making skills.

I ordered a house “premium” glass of Cabernet on tap at the bar, while Tom had a brewski (they also make beer there too!) I wanted to try a glass of the Malbec (which we were making), but they were all “tapped out” of the Malbec unfortunately. I had a class of the house Cabernet Sauvignon on tap instead, and we then headed to our table setup at the back of the bar area.

I was planning on all four of us working on the wine-making project, but Ben and Tom just were happy watching us make the wine, which really worked out well as they took photos of us doing so, and really it was just a two person job. We were guided thru the process by Tim, of Uncorked Winery, as shown in some of the photos below.

While I had visions of stomping the grapes by my barefoot in a large vat like on the “I Love Lucy” episode in the Italian vineyards, the grapes had already been crushed by Uncorked Wine Bar and were positioned in a large thermal insulated jug, which looked like a giant hotel ice bucket or small mini insulated barrel. ? The jug “vat” was large enough to hold the liquid from the grapes, yeast, and chips we would add in, to ultimately yield 28 to 30 bottles of Malbec.

The raw pre-squeezed, raw Malbec grapes prior to adding the yeast, oak chips, stirring etc.
Checking the gravity of the grapes for our wine project.
Steve (DOS) adds the oak-chips to the Malbec for a more robust flavor while aging.
Steve (UNO) adds the single packet of yeast to the Malbec to begin fermentation.

The wine-making process was fairly straight-forward and took only a half hour or so, thanks to the prep setup and our guided instructions by Tim. We then relaxed a bit while I finished my vino and Tom finished his brewski, while I had one task left to do, which involved making a temporary label which would identify our wine.

The wine is left onsite at Uncorked for approximately 10 weeks to age, and our wine-in-process project needed a label to differentiate our wine project from the others that were also aging on-site. I’m not an artist obviously, but sketched out a “Traveling Steve’s Malbec” drawing on the paper bag to differentiate our project from the others on-site also aging. The last step of transferring the wine from the wine vat jug, to a temporary holding jug (the size of a water cooler tub) will be done later in the day by Tim, with my Traveling Steve’s Malbec identifying my jug.

The wine project was even more fun than I expected, and we later headed back to the hotel for a bit to relax a bit, nap, and shower before my birthday dinner that night at the Arnold Palmer Country Club, located, less than a mile from the hotel. Before leaving Uncorked Wine Bar, we setup a return appointment in October for DOS and I to actually bottle “our wine” as well as label it with a custom label that my sister Jenni will do for us. Jenni is much more of an artist, and will submit a drawing a couple weeks prior to Uncorked for printing. After we return and do the bottling, we will then take our two plus cases of wine home with us, and store them for a year in one of our wine coolers. So by next year’s birthday, we will be able to taste “The Traveling Steve’s Malbec”! Can’t promise it will be any good, but you can’t blame a couple guys for trying! LOL!

At 7pm we went over to Arnold Palmer Country Club for dinner. We’ve been there several times over the years, and were seated in the back room by the windows overlooking the golf course outside, and next to the large bar inside. We had a pre-dinner brewski at the bar first, before sitting at our table for dinner.

We shared a couple appetizers for dinner, including AHI Tuna and pork belly, followed by a salad, and our favorite there, Chateaubriand for two!

DOS and I get the Chateaubriand every time we go there, and as always it’s carved table-side by one of the managers. The usual manager woman that is usually there was off that night (she’s been there for years since it opened), but her assistant manager did a great job slicing the Chateaubriand table-side and plating it for us.

We had a delicious dinner with nice Cabernet Sauvignon wine, and great service. After dinner we were stuffed, but we did each get a slice of a different cake or pie, ranging from Key-Lime Pie to Carrot Cake.

We then headed back to the hotel, and DOS surprised me with a couple small gifts. We all had a wonderful time, and everyone helped to make this a special 60th birthday so very memorable!

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