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Formosa Gardens Winery breaks ground, shares details of plan

Formosa Gardens Winery developer George Chen unveiled a rendering of the heart-shaped garden that will serve as an outdoor wedding venue.
Formosa Gardens Winery developer George Chen unveiled a rendering of the heart-shaped garden that will serve as an outdoor wedding venue. (Formosa Gardens handout)

Formosa Gardens developer George Chen has released more details about the garden and event space at the new Island Grove Wine Co. at Formosa Gardens, which held its official groundbreaking Monday morning in Kissimmee.

Chen and his family are self-funding the $6 million project on 11 acres on the northeast corner of Funie Steed Road and Formosa Gardens Boulevard. Island Grove Wine Co., Florida's largest grower of organic blueberries, produces more than 100,000 bottles of blueberry wines blended with grapes and other organically grown fruit.

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The new winery building will include a theater, meeting space, catering kitchen, bride and groom suites, a French pastry and coffee shop, and an outdoor event space dubbed the "Sacred Heart Space." The heart-shaped garden will be able to accommodate up to 630 seated guests and will be surrounded by fragrant gardens of jasmine and gardenias.

Chen told GrowthSpotter that wine tastings would be a small part of his business plan. Stung by unflattering portrayals of hotel owners as workers rally for a higher minimum wage, Chen said he plans to start a business and skills training initiative for workers.

He said his conference rooms would double as classrooms for hotel workers who want to advance in their careers. Chen, who owns the Clarion Suites Maingate, noted that some of his top managers started working for him at the front desk while they were still in their teens.

"A lot of workers come to Osceola County without any job skills and training, and they tend to gravitate to entry level jobs," he said. "The idea is to help train people in hospitality industry and to help them become more valuable to their work environment."

Chen said he wants the winery to inspire more quality development along the W192 corridor. "If we have that, then the wage issue will take care of itself.  With high-end development, you have to hire very good people."

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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