"I wanted something more relaxed and playful," said Vicki, who owned a health food store for many years up north.
Nearly three years after opening the small wine shop, Vicki still enjoys introducing her customers to the ultra-premium tropical, citrus and berry wines and the unique creations she makes with them.
"I started experimenting with the wines and realized I could do really cool things with them," she said.
By combining certain wines, Miles has created drinks based on popular mixed drinks, such as margaritas and pina colidas, and new creations like chocolate covered cherries. Where does she get her inspiration for these unique cocktails?
"I’m inspired by my customers all the time," Vicki admitted.
The wine in Vicki’s shop is made in St. Petersburg by Florida Orange Groves, which currently produces 37 varieties of wines made from 100 percent juice. They are not infused or blended grape wines, but pure tropical fruit wines that can take up to nine pounds of fruit to produce enough juice for just one bottle.
"I discovered the wine while on vacation about 10 years ago," Vicki said. "They don’t contain artificial flavoring or ingredients."
Due to the Southwest Florida climate, the award-winning wines are made to be refreshing – even on the beach. To help reduce glass bottles on the beach, Vicki offers wine in a pouch. The single-serving pouches take 15 minutes to chill in the freezer and come complete with a straw. Sanibel Tropical Wines carries one flavor: Hurricane Class 5 White Sangria, a mix of pineapple, watermelon, passion fruit, keylime and mango all in one.
"That has been our number one seller since we opened," she said.
During the Christmas season, Vicki sold more than 200 beach pouches. They also gained popularity as stocking stuffers and with husbands passing time while their wives shopped nearby.
"We have some already chilled," Vicki said.
In addition to the Florida fine wine in her store, Vicki sells all a person would need to present a delightful gift or host a cheerful party. Accessories that are available for purchase include wine bags, bottle savers, cork pullers, coolers and even small bottle holders.
"I have a lot of fun with it," said Vicki about her store. "The customers notice it, too."
A new Sanibel Tropical Wine patron and Michigan resident Cindy Kushion came into Vicki’s store searching for a raspberry wine. After experiencing some of Vicki’s novel mixes, Kushion found more than she was looking for.
"My favorite was the mix of raspberry and keylime," she said. "It is so light of a drink it’s like drinking flavored water."
A regular customer of Sanibel Tropical Wines has wine shipped to his summer residence.
"I do a lot of shipping," Vicki admitted.
For anyone interested in trying the tropical, berry and citrus wines, Vicki can be found in her store from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. She offers samples before a purchase and will give the customer an opportunity to try any of her one-of-a-kind mixes.
Sanibel Tropical Wines is located at 2340 Periwinkle Way, Unit C-1 in The Village Shops. For more information on the store and what is has to offer, visit www.sanibeltropicalwines.com. Vicki can be reached by phone at 472-3398 or by email at email@example.com.
Sanibel Tropical Wines owner Vicki Miles helps a new customer Cindy Kushion, vacationing from Michigan. Kushion samples wine she is thinking of purchasing.