Friday, January 24, 2014

On loss and libations: Florida funeral home offers wine to mourners.

At the Hodges Funeral Home in Naples, General Manager Seth Minso shows the funeral home's new wine cellar that takes the place of the community room. The room offers a bar type setting with easy chairs as well as high top tables that resemble wine barrels where families can gather.

The Hodges Funeral Home in Naples, Florida has installed a modern wine room complete with a wine cellar. It's a comfortable space where families can congregate for a death-adjacent catered reception, a modern substitute for an hour-long grieving session on wooden church pews. 

From casket to cask– the modern day funeral.

The wine cellar is Funeral Director Seth Minso's touch of nightlife for the afterlife. The Naples, Florida funeral home now offers a full wine selection during its’ funeral services to mourners.

Seth Minso says more and more people wanted celebrations of life instead of traditional funerals. He added that Naples also has a lot of wine lovers.

The wine room is so new it has only been used a handful of times, but with great success. Families can rent the room and have a catered reception with wine service and their choice of music, funeral related or not.

"They still want to have a party, still want to celebrate and have the means to mourn their loved ones…but they don't want to do it over a person's body," Minso said. "For the younger generations that's become such an old fashion idea. Our goal is to make people comfortable, almost like they weren't even in a funeral home," Minso said.

An idea this radical comes with mixed opinions.

"I like the idea," said Judy Fowski, of Naples. "I like the idea of a celebration of life when people can stand around and talk."

"Maybe I'm old fashioned, I don't know. It doesn't sound like they go together," Vumbacco said.

The home will still offer its traditional services for those not interested in the wine cellar.

"No different than going to a restaurant that serves alcohol and not sitting at the bar," Minso said. "There's people that this is going to be meaningful and you got to help them through the grieving process."

Food and drinks at funerals are catching on nationwide.

Minso believes the idea could soon catch on throughout the country. While this is the first funeral home with a full wine cellar, there are several funeral homes in Texas and other states who offer a full bar and catered food.

"Nobody wants to go to a funeral; nobody wants to stay at a funeral home. So we've been renovating things," Minso said. The cellar is an addition to the already popular Hodges Funeral Home. Minso says it offers families a different way to grieve.

"Sure, there are tears, and sure, there's sadness, but the fact of the matter is there's a personal way to celebrate somebody," Minso said. "The traditional and religious aspects I believe in. This is just something as an extension to some of the other families. We're not trying to change what's important to you -- we're trying to add something that may be important to someone else."

Would having food and wine available change your mind about attending a funeral service? It has made a big difference in this funeral home which was already very popular in Naples.

The wine cellar where mourners can drink wine and eat during funeral services.

Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund


  1. This is a creative way to embrace those who would otherwise opt-out of a funeral. Some need a relaxed setting to mellow their nerves and feel relaxed in the company of friends who are also grieving a loss.

    1. Thank you for your welcome comment, Ruthann. I should mention that this funeral home uses celebrants a lot as do the other funeral homes who have a full bar and catered food. Seems to be the future of funeral homes. A more comforting & comfortable presence.


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