Seminole Magazine’s Best Restaurant of 2016: The Vineyard Wine Company

The staff at Vineyard Wine Company receiving their Seminole Magazine "Best of" Award. Clockwise from the top center: Beginning with Ana, clockwise holding the award is Dan Richey, General Manager (holding the award); Tom Jones, Owner; Christa Phillips, Bartender; Christina Kalmoutis, server; Shawn Miller; Sous Chef; Andrew Bright, line cook; Ana Damas, Seminole Magazine.
The staff at Vineyard Wine Company receiving their Seminole Magazine “Best of” Award. Clockwise from the top center: Beginning with Ana, clockwise holding the award is Dan Richey, General Manager (holding the award); Tom Jones, Owner; Christa Phillips, Bartender; Christina Kalmoutis, server; Shawn Miller; Sous Chef; Andrew Bright, line cook; Ana Damas, Seminole Magazine.

Congratulations to Lake Mary’s Vineyard Wine Company, winner an amazing eight Seminole Magazine Best of awards for 2016: Best Kept Secret (third place). Best Sunday Brunch (first place), Best Happy Hour (second place), Best Wine List (first place), Best Restaurant for a Business Meeting (second place), Best Romantic Restaurant (first place [tied with Ruth’ Chris]), Best Restaurant for a Special Occasion (second place), and the top of them all, Best Overall Restaurant (first place).

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Lake Mary siblings Erin Jones Caneza and Robert Jones decided to open the popular and award-winning restaurant in order  to share their love of food and wine with the community. In partnership with restaurateur Dan Richey, they have certainly succeeded. Read on for our interview with the winning team.

Seminole Magazine (SC): How did Vineyard Wine Company get started?
 
Vineyard Wine Company (VWC): The Vineyard Wine Company, located in Lake Mary, is a family-owned and operated wine bar & restaurant created by local residents and co-founders Erin Jones Caneza and her brother, Robert Jones.  The desire to share their passion for food and wine with others led the siblings to partner with Dan Richey, an experienced restaurateur, to establish a restaurant and wine bar concept unlike anything else in Central Florida.
 
SC: What was the inspiration?
 
VWC: The siblings can’t remember a time when wine was not an integral part of their family celebrations. They envisioned a comfortable, casual space where locals could “drop-by-anytime” taste wine, enjoy a four course dinner or sample light fare.
 
SC: What is the philosophy behind the menu? Tell me about the chef as well.
 
VWC: Liz Lasher is the current chef at the Vineyard wine company. Her passion for food and drive for excellence in the field of culinary is outstanding.  She is responsible for unique, chef driven, daily specials and insuring the menus quality and freshness.   We pride ourselves in preparing everything from scratch and cooking all dishes to order – well-prepared, locally inspired, cuisine using the freshest seasonal ingredients.   Under the supervision of Dan Richey, she is now an integral part of our ongoing menu development. Our menu typically sees major changes two times per year, with 75 % new items, however, smaller changes are made throughout the year, focusing on the quality of seasonal products.
 
SC: Where do you source your ingredients? Are local vendors used?
 
VWC: Ingredients are sourced by the freshness and quality from local vendors, farmers, as well as non local vendors and farmers.
  
SC: How are the wines chosen?  
 
VWC: Vineyard has a very good wine selection, with choices not commonly seen.  All wines are tasted by managers, owners and quite often key clients of the restaurant and evaluated for their quality, taste and how they complement the menu with a focused attention to our client’s tastes before being added to the wine list.  We have been honored with the Wine Spectator 2 Glass award for the fifth year in a row and the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence eight years running since our opening.   
 
SC: What about specials or seasonal choices for the menu?  
VWC: Unique dishes are created daily.  Our “specials” are unique fresh chef-driven creations. Not yesterdays leftovers.
 
SC: How does the chef come up with new ideas, and how often does the menu change? 
 
VWC:  New menu ideas are sourced from input from our client’s favorite dishes, our staff’s feedback and a commitment by our chef staff to an investment of development resources for creating “ wow factor” new menu items.  Per question 2 above, our menu typically sees major changes two times per year, with 75 % new items, however, smaller changes are made throughout the year, focusing on the quality of seasonal products.
 
  
SC: What are standout dishes that customers often order? How about favorite wine pairings?
 
VWC: Our fresh fish specials have always been a favorite, as we use the freshest fish available for purchase. Our scratch made meatloaf is another big favorite. The servers are trained in wine knowledge and food pairings, whether it be a crisp Sauvignon Blanc with our seafood dishes, or a big bold Cabernet to go with our cowboy cut ribeye steak, we have every varietal to compliment any dish that is on any of our menus.
Congratulations again, Vineyard Wine Company. We can’t wait for our next visit!