When you think of a winery, do you picture this?
How about this?
No? That's because you haven't been to The Golden Arms Winery. Anyone can do wine with grapes, but it takes a special person who thinks outside the box to come up with 23 different flavors of wine, none of them from grapes (unless you count sea grapes). Meet Eric Rogers and his son Elroy Wattley.
Although Eric has dabbled in the building industry, the one thing that's always been in his blood is farming. When he was younger, he and his brother were each given a small plot of land on which they competed to see who could grow the most stuff. Now that is a smart way of getting your kids to work without realizing they're working. If there was a clear winner, Eric's not saying, but he did learn that everything he touched turned to gold, so to speak.
True to his nickname, "Golden Arms" has turned vacant neighborhood lots that would be overgrown eyesores into veggie & fruit producing farms. He and Elroy sell some of their crops, like sweet potatoes, bok choy, and lettuce, to neighbors in the surrounding community and then use the rest to make wine.
Here's where all the magic happens. This home was moved down from The Estate and has been in the family longer than Eric has been alive. All I saw was green plants and trees. What do you see when you look at all that greenery?
Did you see the guava, gooseberry, rosemary, blackberry, soursop, five finger, noni, cinnamon, tangerine, breadfruit, two kinds of sugar apples (including a rare purple one), tamarind, star fruit, and more? That yard looks different to you now, doesn't it? Hungry? Or better yet, thirsty?
Over 20 years ago, Eric began using a friend's wine recipe to convert veggies and fruits into wine, and he now considers himself a bit of a scientist. So how is it done? They're keeping it a secret, but it can take anywhere from a few months for some wines (which will have less alcohol) to over 20 years for others (which will have higher alcohol contents). Over time, the wines get darker and darker. If a wine turns "off," it's simply sold as vinegar, which, among other possibilities, would be tasty on an oil/vinegar salad thanks to its fruity undertones. Most of their wines have a yeast base with added sugar, but you can get black berry with a rice base or with less sugar (dry). Do you think drinking a glass or two might count as a serving of veggies/fruits? If you're really brave, I wasn't, you can try the brandy made from parsley, which they assured me was delicious.
I did sample a few of the flavors: passion fruit, celery, gooseberry, and soursop. I took home a small bottle of the mixed fruit (a mixture of all the other wines & roots) and was told to be careful, it's strong. It's also supposed to be an aphrodisiac (mainly because of the alcohol content), so watch who you share it with. With just my cats around, there were no worries.
I'm looking forward to a limited addition they're working on, using buds from a citrus tree that only they know the location of. Mysterious. Noni and West Indian Cherry are on the way too.
My favorite of those five was soursop. I thought it was light and fresh, and tasted the most like the original source. I was told it was obvious I had a "sweet mouth." Hmm, I've always been called a smart mouth, but sweet mouth sounds so much better.
Want to try some? You can always try samples at the shop, open daily from 11am to 7pm ( +1 869 766-0856), or check in on their Facebook page and see if they're out and about providing samples. If you do sample them all, make sure you have a designated driver, and consider actually buying a bottle (it's not an open bar, after all). You have a choice of smaller bottles (about 2 glasses worth) and larger (the usual). They're working to get into other markets, but for now, just give them a shout out if you're wanting to try something unique, and they'll guide you in to their Sandy Point location.