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Casa Ybel Resort introduces signature wines, new wine room

By Staff | Jan 7, 2015

The new Thistle Lodge wine. PHOTO PROVIDED

Sanibel Island’s iconic Casa Ybel Resort, (“http://www.casaybelresort.com”>www.casaybelresort.com) has proudly introduced its very own signature wine, vinted in collaboration with Rutherford Wine Company of Napa Valley, California.

Guests at the resort’s Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant will now be able to enjoy a private label offering of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio at the bar, in the dining room or in the privacy of their own home.

In a process that began over a year ago, the Thistle Lodge culinary team including Food & Beverage Director Dennis Riley, Chef John Wolff and Restaurant Manager Sean Ramsey knew they wanted to elevate the caliber of their existing house wine with their own private labeled brand.

“Thistle Lodge is a special place in beautiful surroundings,” says Froilan Ramirez, General Manager. “We have always prided ourselves in the dining experience by providing the highest quality of food, service and ambience. Introducing our own signature branded wine furthers our commitment to our guests and the fine-dining experience.”

According to Chef Wolff, “We knew we could not grow our own grapes on Sanibel Island so we did the next best thing by going to Napa Valley and the Rutherford Wine people for their 30 years of experience.”

A view of the new Wine Room at the Casa Ybel Resort on Sanibel Island. PHOTO PROVIDED

As part of the process, the restaurant had several wine tastings for the staff and several guests, sampling from the selections provided until choices were made that would work best for the restaurant and its Southwest Florida location and diners’ preferences.

Chef Wolff showcases an enticing menu of epicurean delights that feature Floridian, European, and Asian influences.

Added Ramirez, “We hope our guests will enjoy the new wines as much as we enjoyed collaborating with Rutherford Wines on the selection and labeling process. I think the wine will be very popular in the dining room and at upcoming events as well as a great gift idea for visitors to Sanibel Island who wish to take home a unique and fond memento of their vacation.”

At the same time the resort was creating its own signature wine, they decided to take a small under-utilized area of the Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant and transform it into an intimate and cozy gathering place, ideal for relaxing and celebrating the new wines.

The result is the Wine Room, crafted by Interior Designer Nancy Woodhouse of Clive Daniel Hospitality.

A view of the new Wine Room at the Casa Ybel Resort on Sanibel Island. PHOTO PROVIDED

Woodhouse, who also designed the resort’s reception area and upper deck of the Thistle Lodge, refreshed all areas surrounding the Wine Room to include new flooring and painting in both the lobby and entrance.

The ceiling was insulated and redone with scalloped cedar shingles to give a wider, open appearance. Elegant ceiling beams in French Roast brown add synergy to the Wine Room.

Ceiling fans were exchanged for elegant turquoise stone chandeliers; track lights were removed and replaced with custom lighting and sconces. An entire wall features custom cabinetry with open shelving to showcase the restaurant’s vast wine selections.

The new renovations have given a more intimate feel to the restaurant, while still retaining the historical flavor of the building.

The Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant is recognized year after year as one of the area’s most romantic restaurants. The resort is located on the site of Sanibel Island’s very first resort, built around 1890.

During Casa Ybel’s first decade, the Thistle Lodge became the favored gathering spot for celebrities and statesmen, including Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. By the 1920s, the Casa Ybel Hotel had become a full-service resort.

Today, this historic restaurant has impressed food critics, guests and savvy locals alike with its dazzling views of the Gulf and charming Old Florida ambiance.