Larry and Lenora Woodham share a passion for winemaking that dates back over their 40 years at the Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery in Duette, just 14 miles east of Parrish.
But their passion extends far beyond wine to the far reaches of our planet itself. “We only have one planet, and if we want to sustain it, we have to work towards that together,” said Larry. “We are a green, environmentally responsible winery, meaning that everything we do involves recycling and keeping things pure for our environment and for ourselves.”
Located on the Central West Coast of Florida in Duette (northeast Manatee County), Bunker Hill is a 23-acre “working” Florida farm winery that grows and harvests seven varieties of its own Florida Muscadine grapes to handcraft 10 different wines.
They also grow and harvest fresh citrus, bananas and berries for their fresh whole fruit. All of the wines produced at Bunker Hill are pure — none are blended or made from imported grapes or juices.
“We aren’t driven by the mantra of wine clarity, but rather by the taste, bouquet and flavor of the grape,” explained Larry. “Our wines are never blended, and they’re never filtered like the wines you buy off the shelf at your local grocery. From the vine to the bottle, we never mix or blend a single grape that goes into our wines.”
The Woodhams wait a full year before bottling any wine, to give it time to mature and stabilize in bouquet and flavor. All of their label designs depict the animals that live on the protected and preserved woodlands at Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery, and they have started a new line of fresh whole-fruit wines that include orange, grapefruit, lemon, tangerine and banana that are aged in the Wine Cave before bottling. All of the bottles are recycled and repurposed, as well as the glass “carboys” that can be reused over and over, completely eliminating the need for oak barrels.
On the grounds at the Bunker Vineyard is the stunning 10-foot-tall “Wedding Arch,” located at the end of a row of lush grape vines. Handcrafted from 100 percent recycled wine bottles, it towers over the grapevines and includes more than 450 multicolored recycled wine bottles, all glittering in the sun.
“Marriage is very important to us,” said Larry, who has been wed to his bride Lenora for over 40 years. “We inscribe the bottle with the bride and groom’s name and date, and tell them if they ever want to come back to renew their vows here, they can do so free of charge.”
Bunker Hill Winery offers complimentary tours and wine tastings daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with no appointments necessary. Group tours and wine tastings are conducted for groups of 16 to 32 people as well, and include an hors d’oeuvres or salad bar.
“You might ask, with all those choices of wines on the shelves of your local supermarket, package stores and restaurants, why should you come here to buy wine?” said Larry. “We actually produce a world-class wine here with grapes that come from an ancient stock native to the southeast United States. Plus, our wines are unfiltered and pure, not like the mass-produced wines you find in large volume everywhere else.”
Larry and Lenora believe that creating a great wine is more than just a craft — it’s a labor of love. Like love, it can’t be rushed or tainted with impurities.
“Yes, I would say for us, making wine is a passion,” said Larry. “I can’t imagine us doing anything else.”
The Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery is at 8905 Bunker Hill Road in Duette. For more information, visit bunkerhillvineyard.com or call 941-776-0418.