ISLAND GROVE WINE COMPANY AT FORMOSA GARDENS
Welcome to Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens. Many years ago, we envisioned creating an unprecedented venue for weddings and meetings in the southwest Orlando area: a winery and bistro with stunning outdoor gardens and indoor meeting spaces.
What was once a mere concept is now one of the most exciting spots in Central Florida for families and professionals alike.
Located south of Orlando and west of Kissimmee in Osceola County, our winery provides a refuge from the hustle and bustle of US Highway 192 and the tourism corridor. Formosa Gardens is about 1.5 miles from Disney World on W. Irlo Bronson Highway, west of I-4.
We are so close to Disney that you can see the Disney fireworks from our winery every night!
We are dedicated to celebrating healthy lifestyles, food, drink, community, and culture while setting a constructive example of social, economic, and environmental responsibility.
The Island Grove Winery at Formosa Gardens serves as a model for future sustainable developments in Formosa Gardens, Central Florida and beyond.
As you may have already figured out, there’s a lot going on here!
Drinking – We serve award-winning fruit wines from Island Grove Wine Company, traditional wines of international origins, and craft beers.
Eating – Our bistro produces fresh, hot breads and pastries, and artisanal food. Many of our ingredients are sourced from our eight acres of sustainable gardens.
Gathering – With roughly 3,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and expansive outdoor venues surrounded by botanical gardens, our winery is the perfect locale for weddings and other special celebrations and business meetings. We also enjoy hosting seasonal festivals, such as Oktoberfest, the British Festival, and the Blueberry Festival.
Educating – Come take part in one of our wine or tea tastings. We host academic symposia, and will soon be offering yoga, cooking, and painting classes!
For us, this lush venue consisting of gardens, farmers’ market, vineyards, fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables, is a vehicle for embracing and enjoying life, for expanding horizons, for deepening connections, and for experiencing beauty all around us.
Just as importantly, it allows us to promote a wholesome and sustainable lifestyle right at Disney’s doorsteps. We operate our new winery and botanical gardens at Formosa Gardens in Kissimmee with the same forward-thinking philosophy as the organic blueberry farms at Island Grove Wine Company in Hawthorne, Florida, and Arcadia, Florida.
We embody earth-friendly and people-friendly organic, biodynamic, permaculture principles. Moreover, our future luxury rental homes, hotels and restaurants at Formosa Gardens will reflect entirely green construction methodologies and operations.
Farm-to-table and farm-to-glass aren’t just buzzwords here. They are what we practice and wish to share with our families, friends, and guests.
In the theater enclave of our winery, we seek to educate people and other enterprises about sustainable, healthy practices and inspire them to adopt smarter ways of doing things. We strive to show them they can reap the financial, physical, and health benefits, as can our local and other global communities.
We also really like showing the rest of the world how awesome Kissimmee, Osceola County, Orlando, and Central Florida are.
Come visit us and savor a glass of our award-winning wine, a pint of craft beer, or a cup of fresh tea or coffee!
Our Partners & Team
Carl (Bud) Strang III
Formosa Gardens Development Owner
George Chen is a successful entrepreneur, developer, and hotel owner based in Kissimmee, Florida. He has more than 20 years’ experience in theme park construction and management, commercial development, hotel development and management, custom single family home building, green and sustainable construction, and resort vacation rental construction and management.
Chen also has extensive teaching experience in hotel management. He was a professor for the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Educational Institute in various international locations, including Marrakesh, Morocco, Beijing, Shanghai, and Miami. He helped hotel General Managers around the world attain their Certified Hospitality Administrator designation.
Born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1956, Chen came to the United States in 1972. He and his family became naturalized U.S. citizens in 1974, and he remains immersed in both American and Chinese culture. Multilingual and multicultural, Chen fluently speaks and reads English, Chinese, and Spanish. His 88-year-old mother remains active in Taipei, Taiwan as an outstanding educator who founded two private high schools 50 years ago. Chen and his wife visit his mother in Taiwan and his wife’s parents in China every year.
Since 2009, Chen has served on the Osceola County Tourist Development Council, including previously as chairperson. He helps oversees spending of the council’s tax funds, making recommendations regarding project funding and promoting Osceola County tourism. Additionally, he serves on the board of the Osceola Resort Area Council, a chamber of commerce focused on tourist businesses.
Today, Chen focuses on innovative, environmentally friendly, sustainable business development and green construction. His current and future projects include organic wineries, fruit and vegetable farms, custom green luxury vacation homes built on organic farms near the Disney area in Florida, and sustainable commercial developments. He’s pursuing in-depth study of green building techniques, organic agriculture, and healthy organic farm-to-table diets.
Chen’s core values are based on his strong faith in our democracy, freedom of expression, fair-play capitalism, gratitude, helping others, and hard work for continued success in life, family, friendship, and businesses.
Education: BA, Biology, Cum Laude, University of California, San Diego
Hospitality Education: Accredited Certified Instructor (ACI), Certified Hospitality Administrator (CHA), Certified Hospitality Trainer (CHT)
Green Building Initiative: Certified Green Globes Professional in April 2014
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design: LEED Accredited Professional since 2009
Hotel Restaurant Management: Florida Restaurants Food Handling license
Financial Planning: Certified Financial Planner (CFP) exam, passed in 2003
Water Sports and Safety: American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor and Lifeguard, PADI Dive Master and Dive Instructor
Career History and Experience:
1982 – 1990: Founder, Holistic Computing and Aaxcel Computers
1989 – 1994: President, Florida Splendid China, Inc.; $100 million+ theme park development project in joint venture with China Travel Services of Hong Kong; Chen led more than 120 Chinese artisans who lived on site and more than 1,000 American theme park construction and management workers; he oversaw all entertainment development, theme park design, construction management, marketing, sales, and operations
1994 – present: President, Formosa Developers, Inc.; Formosa Gardens Homes, Inc.; Clarion Suites Maingate Hotel; Formosa Gardens Dream Vacation Homes, Inc.; Rainbow Agro Products, LLC
Outstanding Asian American Businessman of the Year, Orlando, Florida, 1995
Grand Aurora Award in Shopping Center Design, Formosa Gardens Village, 1997
Aurora single family home innovative design, 1998
Received Lamp Light of Knowledge award, 2003
Hospitality Trainer of the Year from AHLA, EI, American Hotel and Lodging Association, Educational Institute, 2003
Received LEED Gold designation for luxury vacation model home at Formosa Gardens Estate, built by Formosa Gardens Homes, Inc., 2010
Osceola County’s Spirit of Hospitality, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2014
Island Grove Ag Products
Ken Patterson is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in blueberry production. He has over 30 years of experience and has traveled the world to meet with growers and tour blueberry farms in Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, France, and Morocco. While visiting these countries, he contributed to and gained insights into the global blueberry industry.
His blueberry career began in north Georgia in 1984 with a small 4-acre planting of blackberries and blueberries. In 1990, Patterson and his family relocated to Ocala, Florida, where he continued his blueberry endeavors with a 20-acre planting. The farm merged with the Blue Jillion Corporation in 1999 to form Island Grove Ag Products.
Today, the farm includes 350 acres of blueberries and 10 acres of blackberries, with 100 acres certified organic. In addition, Island Grove provides blueberry plants to growers and nurseries across the United States.
In 2010, Patterson entered the fruit wine business, and today he and his 70 full-time employees supply their beverages to more than 400 stores in Florida. He is involved in various organizations pertaining to the blueberry industry and has been a member of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association since 1991, serving on the Board of Directors from 1993 to 2001. He was President of the Association for four years, starting in 1995.
Then, in 2003, he was elected by his peers and appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to the United States Highbush Blueberry Council as the Southern U.S. Representative. He was reelected and reappointed in 2006 and was Chairman of the Industry Relations Committee. At present, he holds a seat on the committee and was instrumental in creating the International Blueberry Organization, which now has membership from 16 countries.
Patterson is also a member of the following industry organizations:
North American Blueberry Council
Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association
Florida Blackberry Association
Georgia Blueberry Growers Association
Florida Blueberry Festival
Patterson remains involved in the daily operations of Island Grove Wine Company, Island Grove Ag Products, and Island Grove Ag Products Nursery Division. His commitment and dedication to the blueberry industry is unparalleled and new blueberry projects are always on the horizon.
Island Grove Wine Company
Blueberries have been in Sarah Aschliman’s life since early childhood. When she was 4, her family began small in the industry with a u-pick farm. Over three decades, it expanded into a large agricultural endeavor, encompassing 350+ acres of blueberries, a plant nursery, and a winery.
Throughout college, she excelled creatively, graduating Summa Cum Laude from the Miami University of Art & Design with a BFA in Graphic Design. She was a member of the Delta Epsilon Iota Honors Society and the Graphic Design Honors Classes.
Following graduation, she began a career in the toy industry and worked on award-winning creative development, packaging, and consumer product branding for Disney, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, and other companies. Aschliman spent 10 well-loved years in the toy industry, and still works here and there doing design and branding work.
Aschliman had also created a new brand identity that brought her back to her agricultural roots: Island Grove Wine Company. Under its parent company, Island Grove Ag Products, the winery debuted on the market in 2010 with its first vintage of blueberry wine. Aschliman is now the winery’s General Manager, continuing to learn and grow in the blueberry industry. Additionally, she is the co-owner of a 40-acre commercial blueberry farm in Arcadia, Florida, along with her husband Chris, her cousin Lisa, and Lisa’s husband Jerod. She has been liaison editor for Blueberry News, published by the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, as well as a member of this organization, for several years.
Aschliman is excited about the blueberry and wine business in Florida, and strives to grow and share wonderful products from The Sunshine State.
CARL J. "BUD" STRANG III
Carl J. “Bud” Strang, III is CEO of Six/Ten, LLC. He received a BA from the University of Florida and a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1983.
Strang has been actively involved in the startup, growth, and development of a variety of business ventures, including in the real estate, agriculture, software, and business services industries. As the former President of SixTen, LLC, he was directly involved in the development of Six/Ten’s downtown Winter Haven project and led development of the downtown portfolio of properties from its first 8,000-square-foot office building to more than 16 properties totaling over 400,000 square feet.
A longtime resident of Winter Haven, Strang is active in city and Polk County civic affairs. He is a past President of the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce and of Main Street Winter Haven, Inc., and he currently serves on the Boards of Directors for the Winter Haven Hospital Foundation, the Polk Museum of Art, and the Central Florida Economic Development Council.
Island Grove Wine Company
Partner & Head Winemaker
Chase Marden discovered his enthusiasm for wine back in 1999, when he first stepped foot into a friend’s winery in upstate Vermont. He was hooked after smelling a small batch of fermenting blueberries, and soon began working part-time in a small winery called Pelkey and Hogans and a test vineyard in Shelburn, Vermont. He further educated himself at home for a year, producing blueberry wine and researching the market. He pursued his passion by relocating to Florida to get involved in the state’s growing blueberry industry.
Marden began his first wine company in 2001, bottling under the label Patrick Avery, which achieved some local and state medals. He then partnered with a small blueberry grower in Plant City, Florida and formed FL Berry Wines, Inc. Over six years, his wines won numerous awards and gained national recognition, including several Best of Show titles in Florida competitions. He also broadened his focus on blueberry wines by experimenting with many fruit-infused blends.
In 2009, Marden moved again to northern Central Florida to help launch Island Grove Wine Company, a new venture of the well-established large commercial blueberry farm Island Grove Ag Products. His fruit wines for the company have been widely praised and in just a few short years, the products are distributed to retail stores across the state and have won more than 50 medals.
Marden takes great pride in the quality and refinement of his craft. Always working on new products and formulas to share with his customers, his drive and determination to create great wine is always front and center.
Blue Grove Baking Company
Owner and Managing Partner
Dana Johnson is certified by the largest organization of professional chefs in the country, the American Culinary Federation, as an Executive Pastry Chef, with over 16 years of professional baking experience. As owner and managing partner of the Blue Grove Baking Company, Mr. Johnson oversees menu planning and creative vision of the food service operations at Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens. The vision of Blue Grove includes a holistic approach to the modern patisserie concept. Every morning, he and his professionally trained chefs harvest fresh and organic fruits from the gardens for the day’s preparations. The menu, which features simple and limited ingredients, allows for a showcase of nature’s beauty and wholesomeness often overlooked in large-scale franchise operations.
“All of our menu items will be limited in their ingredients, so as not to overwhelm the palette, as the intention is to pair our sweets, cheeses, meats, and sandwiches with not only the wines produced by Island Grove Wine Company, but hand-selected tea, coffee, and non-alcoholic beverages,” says Johnson.
His team leaves no detail unconsidered. Dairy products are sourced with no added hormones whenever possible, and only unbleached flours and non-trans fats are used in pastry preparations. Educational programs are also being developed, which will offer the public a truly unique experience of harvesting and joining the kitchen team in preparing the day’s delicacies.
Mr. Johnson is also owner of Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab in Bradenton, FL. Sugar Cubed offers a wide variety of cakes, pastries, and desserts, and specializes in unique bakery product development for wholesale applications. He is also credited with creating the first vocational pastry program in the state of Florida at Manatee Technical College, having written the curriculum for the Florida Department of Education in 2011. Mr. Johnson is also a former baking and pastry chef instructor, chapter secretary of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and holds six medals in international baking and pastry competitions.
Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens
Botanics Manager & Beekeeper
Bill Leonard grew up in the Finger Lakes Region of New York state, literally surrounded with vineyards and a thriving wine industry. He developed a passion for wine, wine making and all things related early on. He's also an avid entertainer and enjoys throwing parties and events. Bill enjoys and fully appreciates wine culture and the lifestyle and feels privileged to be working with a company where so many of his passions are realized.
The first 16 years of Bill's professional life were spent in Hospitality and Food service including 5 years operating his catering company and bakery/cafe. He has always been a passionate gardener, with a particular interest in flowers and has designed and built extensive gardens for himself and others over the years while living in the northern states.
Bill's position with Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens has been a natural pairing of many of his passions, interests and talents. It allows him to be keep his interest in food and hospitality through growing various crops for use in the Bistro as well as occasional assistance with events and groups.
He began studying beekeeping at age 16 and developed a love of the subject and all things honey bee related. Currently Bill manages 5 working colonies (which is about to expand to 10 in number) and 1 observation hive. Having attended the the University of Florida Bee College program 2 times around the state of Florida he is pursuing becoming a Master Beekeeper in the near future.
Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens
Wedding Sales Manager
Haley Johnson joins our Sales Team from small town Kennett Missouri! She has her B.S in Business Marketing and Events from the University of Mississippi. Haley is a recent newlywed and loves every minute of it!
Joining our team in August 2018, Haley brings a refreshing element of fun, style, and pizzazz as our Wedding Sales Manager and with her creativity and dedication she helps each Brides dream wedding come to life. In order to better serve our brides and grooms, Haley has diligently and successfully completed the requirements to become a Certified Wedding Planner.
Haley lives by the words of Aubrey Hepburn, “The best thing to hold on to in life is each other!” which is why she aspires to create the most intimate and memorable day for all our wedding couples!