By Michelle Farnham
April 13, 2023
MIRAMAR BEACH – One glass, 500-plus bottles, unlimited bites, four days of fun! The South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival is back for its 11th year, and like a fine wine, it just keeps getting better!
“For 2023, we are mixing it up so to speak,” said Stacey Brady, the festival’s executive director. “We are bringing truly innovative wines and winemakers to the festival this year. French Pool Toy is a fun and sustainable wine from France presented in elegant, unbreakable and eco-friendly packaging. We plan to pour their rosé and white.”
Thursday night’s Winemakers and Shakers event at Wine World Destin begins the weekend, featuring some of the festival’s top wineries and excellent local eats.
The party really gets started at the Craft Beer & Spirits Jam Friday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. along the streets of Grand Boulevard and the Grand Park. Ticket holders are issued a tasting glass and an all-access pass to craft beers and spirits samples, set to the sounds of B-Boy Productions. You’ll recognize a few local labels as well as some of your favorites from around the country.
“You won’t want to miss the Monkey Shoulder Mixer, an actual renovated and tricked out concrete truck dispensing a delicious bourbon slushie,” Brady pointed out. “It’s a real show-stopper.”
She also mentioned displays from Basil Hayden, No 3 Gin, and Tequila 512.
The highlight of the weekend is definitely Saturday and Sunday’s Grand Tastings, held from 1 to 4 p.m. at Grand Boulevard’s Town Center. Snag a tasting book and wine glass, then move from booth-to-booth sampling intriguing bottles. Make note of your favorites to pick up at the retail tent, conveniently located on-site.
Brady is especially proud to welcome Glenn C. Salva, the wine estate manager at Antinori Napa Valley, who brings over 35 years of Napa Valley wine-growing experience; as well as Victoria Eady Butler, master blender for Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey.
“She will be on hand to pour and educate attendees about her whiskey. Her great-great-grandfather was Nearest Green, the first known African American master distiller,” Brady said.
Don’t miss chef demonstrations, tasting seminars, Jackson Family Wine World, Spirits Row and the Nashville Songwriters Showcase on the center stage – all included in your ticket price.
The Savor South Walton Culinary village will again feature the work of Wine World Culinary Director Scott Plumley.
“He goes all out every year in Culinary Village, creating an ideal menu to pair with wines being poured,” Brady explained. “We are thrilled to announce that Chef Yoshi Eddings of Harbor Docks will prepare and serve sushi at the festival. Anyone who knows her work and reputation knows what a treat it is to enjoy her world-renown sushi.”
Pick-and-choose from these individually ticketed events, or purchase a 3-day VIP package which includes a special kick-off event, “A Taste of Grand Boulevard,” and swag bag – while supplies last. Brady said VIPs will be able to pre-order the really fine wines poured at the VIP tasting, available on the festival website about a month in advance.
As always, proceeds of the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival benefit the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation. In 2022 alone, the festival generated $40,000 for the partner charity, which assists more than a dozen children’s charities throughout Northwest Florida. The weekend is held in conjunction with the DCWAF’s annual auction, a separate ticketed event held on the festival grounds. More info can be found at dcwaf.org.
The South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival will be April 27 to 30, 2023. For more information including tickets and VIP opportunities, visit sowalwine.com.
Photos by Michelle Farnham