Ken Tarsitano is not only having fun making wine on the beach in Flagler County, but he's also winning awards doing it. Founder of Flagler Beachfront Winery in Flagler Beach, Tarsitano's Cabernet blend and Merlot won the Double Gold Medal Award at the 2016 Florida International Wine Competition. "Most people don't equate Florida with wine," Tarsitano said. "But we're the number eight state in the U.S. for wine production volume."
Tarsitano sources grapes from all over the U.S., then presses, ferments, bottles, ages and importantly, drinks it all beachside in Flagler. "We're not just making that sweet muscadine wine," he said. "Our most popular varietals are dry reds, which came as a surprise to us." In fact, Flagler Beachfront Winery makes a wide range of wine, from Merlot to Chardonnay and Cabernet to Pinot Gris.
In addition to making an expansive range of wine, Tarsitano also enjoys getting creative with his wine making. One of Flagler Beachfront Winery's most popular items is a wine slushie and now Tarsitano is making wine ice cream. "The ice cream is very new and many of our customers don't know about it yet," he said.
For this creative entrepreneur, both building a company and making new products is all about the right mixture. As an entrepreneur, Tarsitano says you need the right mixture of gumption and smarts. "You need gumption to put your whole heart into it while knowing the financial side to be able to keep the lights on and not overextend yourself," he said. "Have at least enough money for one year of rent before you start."