Spirits: Twisted vines

Lake Seneca Farms has an orchard full of fruits to make unique wines for any taste.

Tim Besuden got into hobby wine about seven years ago, when he and his wife, Jane, moved from Orlando to Mount Dora. They eventually had the idea to buy some property where they could grow grapes to make their own wine, and soon came across Lake Seneca Farms in Eustis.

“It was abandoned, overgrown, the grass was really high and the house was dilapidated, and we fell in love with it, of course,” Tim says. “So, we planted our first grapevine and then renovated.” 

The couple first renovated the house and then started planting other fruits, and soon their wines were winning gold medals in international competitions, and they were getting requests from people who wanted to purchase their wines. The high demand and the popularity among their friends encouraged the Besudens to finally get licensed in summer 2019, and they went from amateur to professional winemakers. 

In their “experimental orchard,” as Tim calls it, the couple grow elderberries, mulberries, peaches, plums, nectarines, blackberries and muscadine grapes, as well as a few others, though they’re not all used for wine. They also create seasonal wines like passionfruit in the summer and pumpkin in the fall, which Jane says is “like Thanksgiving in a glass.” They use grapes from California to make more traditional wines such as cabernet sauvignon, rosé and chardonnay.

“The wines that we make, I try to make them more like traditional wine style but taking the regular wines and kind of putting a twist on it. And that’s the actual name of our brand of wine, Twisted Farmhouse,” Tim says.

While the range of Twisted Farmhouse wines has a scale of dry to sweet, they are all still on the sweeter side when compared with traditional dry wines. I enjoyed the Harvest Red Cabernet Sauvignon and the rosé, which both fell under the “dry” category. 

The sweeter Harvest Red Muscadine also had a nice, natural grape flavor and tasted almost like grape juice, as opposed to the aged flavor you get from a non-muscadine grape wine. The sweetest wines were the mulberry, elderberry and the banana-raisin, which likely will give you a toothache similar to the one you had as a kid the day after Halloween.

Tim and Jane know that not everyone is a fan of muscadine wine, so they try to add a twist to that wine as well as the others.

“Some people are not traditional wine drinkers. They like to experiment and experience new wine. So, we try to meet all tastes,” Tim says.

They currently make their wines in six-gallon batches but already are planning on expanding in the near future once they have more fruit available.

Tim and Jane Besuden. // Provided photos

When you go to Lake Seneca Farms for a wine tasting, Jane will give you a paper listing the wines from sweet to dry, and you can rate each wine you taste on a scale of 1-5. Then if you decide to attend one of the winemaking classes, you’ll know which wine you may want to make.

During a winemaking class, you’ll make a six-gallon batch of wine (about 30 bottles) using the winery’s equipment as Tim helps you through the process. Once it’s aged a few weeks and is ready for bottling, Tim and Jane will help you create personalized labels. A lot of people choose to serve the wine they made at their weddings or hand out smaller bottles to their guests as party favors, Jane says. 

There’s more to the story of how the name “Twisted Farmhouse” came to be, so make sure you ask about it when you visit. 

Get ready!

Twisted Farmhouse will soon offer new wines including pear, lemon and serena cherry once the plants start producing enough fruit to do so. 


If you go

Lake Seneca Farms, 36047 E. Lake Seneca Road, Eustis

352.589.6100  

Hours: Second Saturday of every month or by appointment; events schedule on Facebook.

lakesenecafarms@gmail.com

lakesenecafarms.com, facebook.com/lakesenecafarms.

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