(Photos: Charmaine George) 

Welcome to the neighborhood, Cooper’s Hawk! The winery and restaurant chain, with more than 55 locations in ten U.S. states (including more than a dozen in Florida) began celebrating its Nov. 20 Grand Opening on S.R. 56 a few days earlier with some Friends & Family days and a North Tampa Bay Chamber ribbon cutting (photo below left) on Nov. 18. 

Photo above courtesy of North Tampa Bay Chamber.

As long-time Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club members who also have eaten at the restaurants in Tampa and Sarasota about two dozen times, Jannah and I were as excited about the Wesley Chapel opening as the rest of the community appears to be. 

Founder and CEO Tim McEnery was on-hand for Cooper’s Hawk’s NTBC ribbon-cutting event and, since he opened his first location in Orland Park, IL, in 2005, the restaurant chain’s wines have won hundreds (nearly 600) of awards and the food (some of which is shown on this page) is definitely a cut above what you find at most chain eateries. 

In addition, Wine Club members receive a number of outstanding benefits, including two free wine tastings (the “Lux” tastings come with a small upcharge), accumulating points for each time you dine at the restaurant, a credit for free dining on your birthday and much more. 

Tasty pan-roasted mahi-mahi

And, even though I used to wonder how a winery located in Woodridge, IL, could possibly offer a wide variety of delicious wines, after eight years of tastings and dozens of bottles that we have both enjoyed ourselves and given as gifts to other oenophiles, I can assure you that a Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club membership is the way to go. The grapes the company imports from every great winemaking region across the globe are blended into everything from Barbera to Zinfandel, with lots of options for both you sweet wine drinkers and for those who prefer a little dust on their palates when they imbibe. 

And, if you prefer hard liquor or beer over wine, Cooper’s Hawk has an ultra-premium bar to meet your needs, too. 

The best news of all is that although dining at Cooper’s Hawk isn’t a 15-30-minute process, the service we have experienced so far has been super-attentive and on point. 

There’s even a private dining area for up to 48 guests that can be divided into two 24-seat private rooms perfect for birthday parties and other special occasions. 

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant (28963 S.R. 56) is open every day for lunch & dinner. For more info, visit CHWinery.com or call (813) 755-4445 & tell GM Joseph McCracken & his staff that we sent you! — GN 

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