Flagler Beachfront Winery

THESE FOLKS HAVE IT GOING ON!!!

I don’t think Ken Tarsitano and his wife, Kelly, and kids Isabella, Brant, and Mia have dreams and ambitions quite like me. I can’t seem to dream that big. Before they even looked into Flagler Beach, They already owned and operated Tarsitano Vineyards and Winery in Ohio, which Ken Tarsitano said is “one of the few certified organic wineries east of the Mississippi.”

In 2012 Ken and Kelly bought a home in Flagler County and Ken said the impetus to open a winery at the beach came from his wife. “This is basically my wife’s dream, to be here on the ocean,” he said.

The couple opened the doors to the Flagler Beachfront Winery at 611 N. Oceanshore Blvd. on March 1, 2013 offering customers a variety of wines and craft beers with a wide open view of the ocean. But unlike a shop that simply sells wine by the glass and bottle, the Tarsitanos are winemakers as well. “Our model is following the micro-brewery idea,” said Ken Tarsitano.

Making the wine to sell was only one of the tasks facing the Tarsitanos. In addition to finding the right space and renovating a former Pizza Hut restaurant on State Road A1A, there were many federal, state and local regulations to follow and a lot of permits to secure.

“We had to get a federal permit to make wine and a state permit and we have to get another license to sell it retail,” he said.

The couple also had to work closely with Flagler Beach officials to get the proper permits. In fact, because the city had never had a winemaking operation seek permits to operate, officials had to make changes to existing land development regulations.

“It was a big step for us when Ken first approached and we looked at what he wanted to do and where he wanted to do it,” said Flagler Beach City Manager Bruce Campbell. “The first thing we discovered is that the building is in the general commercial zoning district.”

That was a problem, Campbell said, because there is no permitted use in the general commercial district for a standalone winery.

“We actually had to amend the land development regulations to allow boutique wineries in the district,” he said. “That was the challenge.”

Campbell said it was worth “tweaking” the land development regulations to bring the business to Flagler Beach.

It’s a nice business, a nice fit,” he said. “We didn’t believe it was that far of a stretch. It’s probably something that should have been allowed all along.”

Campbell said the winery will be a good addition to the city.

“I think it’s something our visitors will enjoy and something our residents are going to enjoy,” he said. “We try to find a way to make it work in Flagler Beach if at all possible.”

The winery has two double gold and two silver medals at the Florida International Wine Competition, something about which Ken Tarsitano is justifiably proud.

“It allows us to feel validated here on the beach,” he said. “Winning some kind of medal like this is really nice and it means somebody can come in here and know we make high quality wine.”

The details:

Flagler Beachfront Winery, 611 N. Oceanshore Blvd., Flagler Beach, FL.

HOURS: Noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday

CONTACT: 386-693-4950 or Flagler Beachfront Winery

Flagler Beachfront Winery: The family owned and operated Beachfront winery offers a variety of bottles you can enjoy on the beach. The Flagler Beachfront Winery also offers craft beers on tap and a selection of grilled flatbreads with a variety of toppings, including avocado, basil, brie and prosciutto, artichoke and chocolate. Aside from its usual operations, the winery also offers special events and makes its wine on site.