Vol 7 No. 24 -March 7, 2007

Sweet Pea's Samplings: From fruit wine to chocolate

Patty and Larry Geist named their store after their new granddaughter’s nickname.

By Louise Bolger
sun staff writer

If something is sweet, it’s pleasing to the taste, to the mind and can also create pleasurable feelings. If you like sweets (who doesn’t?) and if you like wine (it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere), a new shop in Holmes Beach may just be what you and your taste buds are craving.

Patty and Larry Geist opened Sweet Pea’s Samplings in December of last year, cutting short their early retirement. After a year of walking Anna Maria’s beaches, they decided to put their years of business ownership experience to good use by opening a local business reflecting the Florida lifestyle they love. They rented space near the Holmes Beach Post Office before they knew exactly what type of retail store they wanted. The only thing Patty Geist knew for sure was that she wanted fresh bulk candy you could purchase by the piece or the pound, something she herself had been looking for on the Island.

Eventually they found a company in St. Petersburg specializing in fruit wines made with 100 percent Florida fruit. After sampling the unique wines made with blueberries, oranges, grapefruits, mangos, raspberries, guavas, key limes and other Florida fruits, they were convinced these wines were the perfect companion to other sweets. The Geist’s say fruit wines are more of a personal taste, similar to personal preferences in food, and their flavors explode in your mouth when combined with different cuisines. In order to introduce their wine selections, which range between $16 and $26 per bottle, they offer samples at their wine tasting bar to individuals and groups.

In addition to quality chocolates made in Tampa and fruit wine, the Geist’s have stocked their attractive shop with sweets of all kinds with a Florida theme. If you like key lime you can purchase key lime cookies, key lime honey with key lime oils, key lime pie filling, key lime candy and key lime juice. They also carry hand cut Moravian cookies, the world’s thinnest cookies, in a variety of flavors and sizes. Longing for pecan pie? You can buy the filling at Sweet Pea’s and make your own, or satisfy your sweet tooth with saltwater taffy made in Clearwater, truffles or toffee, all shipped fresh to Anna Maria.

And in keeping with the Florida theme, Sweet Pea’s carries Keller-Charles palm tree dishes, glasses, pitchers and napkins in addition to a nice selection of wine and champagne glasses. Organic teas and Costa Rican coffee are available, as well as mugs and tea bag holders, salad dressings and pepper jelly.

Sweet Pea’s Sampling’s is a great place to pickup a hostess gift, have a gift basket designed or grab a unique bottle of wine for sunset. And bring the little ones who will enjoy the decorative carousel horse and alligator chocolates.

For luck, Patty and Larry Geist named their new business after their new granddaughter’s nick name, and based on the number of customers they’ve been serving, it’s working. A plaque on wall of the shop may say it all, "wine improves with age – the older I get the more I like it." Sweet Pea’s Sampling’s is a work in progress that will also undoubtedly improve with age.

Sweet Pea's Samplings
5350 Gulf Dr. • Holmes Beach
Open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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