Sandestin Wine Festival makes its triumphant return
By Michelle Farnham
April 17, 2021
BAYTOWNE WHARF – After getting shelved due to the coronavirus in 2020, not even the threat of thunderstorms could keep wine lovers away from the 34 annual 2021 Sandestin Wine Festival, April 15-18. Both Friday and Saturday’s grand tastings sold out, as well as Sunday’s New Orleans Bottomless Brunch, held at Hammerhead’s Bar & Grille.
While the weather held Friday night, the foreboding forecast came to fruition during Saturday afternoon’s grand tasting, as the skies opened up with about an hour to go. That’s the good thing about a wine festival, though, as the party continued under tents, awnings, and even the shuttle back to the parking lot, where a busload of attendees showered one lucky rider with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Before the downpour, guests sampled their way through 58 tents, plus the Bubbly & Boozy tent and the VIP experience.
Over at the Capp Heritage tent, for example, reps were pouring six different bottles.
“Try the Capp Heritage Barbera (2015, Napa Valley),” encouraged the attendant. “It’s real easy drinking, like a Merlot. It’s a specialty of Italy!”
While there was plenty of Cab Sav, Malbec, and Rieslings, the Sandestin Wine Festival isn’t all wines. Manifest Distilling was on site, offering gins, vodkas and whiskey, while Kombi Keg 30A poured Destin Brewery beers straight from the tap on the side of their vintage VW Bus! Up the hill in the Bubbly & Boozy tent, tasters could find everything from the Hard Truth Peanut Butter Whiskey to the Tarantula Tequila, Torres 10-Year Brandy and Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka.
As always, there was a selection of bites to go with the booze under the Savor South Walton tents, like the Steak Diane from Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood, a charcuterie plate from Sandestin Catering, and the very popular churros with Nutella from Cannery Lane Cantina.
Baytowne Wharf newcomer Drunken Goat Saloon dished up tasters of their Hillbilly Chili, which seemed apropos on the unseasonably cool day.
Representing Baytowne neighbor Slick Lips Seafood and Oyster House, Chef Jay Ammons and his crew were slinging street tacos.
“Today we’re doing Mojo Pulled Pork Taco with cotija cheese and fresh salsa verde,” Ammons said as he warmed tortillas. “It’s getting a little damp, but that’s OK!”
The Sandestin Wine Festival is a four-day experience, including the Thursday night kick-off party, a wine and chocolate seminar, tequila dinner, champagne and oysters extravaganza, yoga session and Sunday’s New Orleans brunch at Hammerheads Bar & Grill. Look for information on tickets to the 2022 weekend at www.sandestinwinefestival.com.
Photos by Michelle Farnham