SouthShore Uncorked offers Napa wine experience with your distinct tastes and budget in mind

Kathy and Steve Lieberman opened SouthShore Uncorked in 2014, allowing customers to come in, choose a recipe for fine wine, then put it together. The wines cost a fraction of retail prices. They do the intensive work of fermenting. The shop hosts various events for customers, such as Wind Down Wednesday or customers can make an appointment to come in and make wine. Photos Courtesy of SouthShore Uncorked

By Yvette C. Hammett

Maybe only, say, 1 percent of diners can regularly afford to buy a great bottle of wine at a restaurant or even to take home for a celebration.

The Riverview area has a winery that can solve that problem for wine aficionados.

SouthShore Uncorked allows customers to come in to the shop, put together a recipe for a fine chardonnay or Malbec and take home 28 to 30 bottles within a short time period. Instead of paying the $75 restaurant price per bottle, they can have it for about $11.50.

“They have a choice of up to 90 different varieties of wine to choose from, not all in stock at the same time,” said Uncorked co-owner Kathy Lieberman. “They craft their wine with one of our staff members.

“We are a winery, and we manufacture all wine on the premises,” she said.” We also have a home-brew station where customers can come in to the store and craft their wine here or purchase kits to do at home, if they have the right equipment.”

Just name it and SouthShore Uncorked seems to have a recipe for it, whether it’s merlot, Pinot Grigio, sauvignon blanc, Gewürrztraminer Pinot Noir, shiraz, sangiovese, or any of a wide variety of sweet fruit wines or dessert wines.

Chardonnay, merlot and malbec are the customer favorites.

“The process is the customer leaves their wine with us and we do all of the processing. It’s pretty labor intensive,” Kathy said. “It begins to ferment within 24 hours and approximately 10 days in to fermentation, it is transferred in to a carboy, which is pre-racked then eventually transferred to another carboy where it takes 30 to 60 days to mature.”

Customers choose their recipe, which comes with a kit containing juice and flavors for each particular recipe. They mix it up and leave the fermentation to the pros — Kathy and Steve Lieberman.

The couple started the business in 2014 making wines for commercial establishments, like real estate firms that wanted to give wine to customers. They later expanded to include the shop where customers can come in and make wine, Steve said. He was training at another wine company he worked for previously.

“It’s going pretty good,” he said. The process is done one customer at a time, by appointment.

“Our typical customer is someone that lives between Brandon and the Manatee County line who enjoys wine and wants to drink fine wine on a budget,” Kathy said.

“One advantage is you can taste wine prior to making it, so you know absolutely that is the wine you like,” she said.

There is a Napa-style tasting/event room where the Liebermans hold events such as Girls Night Out, Open Mic Night, Jazz Night and Wind Down Wednesdays. All wines are available by the glass or bottle for purchase.

Once the wine is complete, customers return to bottle and cork it, then label it with either standard or custom labels.

Local photographer Betty Huth has been a regular at SouthShore Uncorked for close to three years, making about 500 bottles of wine.

“I make wine for both business and pleasure,” she said. “We do a lot of networking in the community, and I have known Kathy and Steve through their real estate since before they opened SouthShore Uncorked. We were at a networking group, and I was talking with Kathy about how my daughter and I were drinking this wine every weekend and it was costing $75. She told me they were opening a winery beginning next year and that we should try their wines.

“It’s been two or three years now,” Huth said. “We make red and white, usually more than one batch at a time. I have room to store 90 to 100 bottles at home.  I do everything from traditional merlot to one of the fruitier, like black raspberry cabernet or a sangria. We’ve also made a number of different whites, also.

“Some of my wine-snob friends had the merlot and chardonnay, and they have been pleasantly surprised that what we made was so good. I’m not really a wine snob, but like sweeter wines and don’t like the aftertaste from a lot of wines. A lot of times, you can get a headache. I haven’t found any of the wines I make with SouthShore Uncorked have ever done that.”

Huth said she has gone from spending $75 a weekend on wine to about $18. “I can get three bottles for what I was paying for one.”

The recipes customers use come from Chile, Argentina, France, New Zealand, California, Washington State and Oregon — all the wine hot spots. They also carry German and South African recipes and juices.

“I just wanted to have a safe place for people to come and enjoy,” Steve said. “It’s a handcrafted wine very similar to what they do in Europe.”

The shop is at 1432 Apollo Beach Blvd., Apollo Beach. To learn more, visit www.southshoreuncorked.com or call 813-649-9466.

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