Argentine vintner headlines Slick Lips wine dinner
By Michelle Farnham
Spanning April 12 to 15, the Sandestin Wine Festival is poised to offer food and wine aficionados four days of fun in the sun.
With an array of events to choose from over the long weekend, it appears the sold-out VIP experiences at both Friday and Saturday’s Grand Tastings were the hottest tickets in town.
Julie Stuckey, events manager at the Village of Baytowne Wharf, said Grand Tasting general admission tickets are still available, but quantities are limited – by design.
“All events have the potential to sell out,” Stuckey explained. “We pride ourselves on maintaining the same experience for all ticket buyers, so we don’t want to run out of food or have terribly long lines. After so many wine festivals here in The Village, we’ve certainly learned a lot, so we know that amount of people that we can handle!”
Although the festival is in its 32nd year, organizers continue to add new offerings. Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House – the newest eatery in the village – will host its first wine dinner Thursday night. The intimate upstairs gathering features Slick Lips cuisine, expertly paired with wines from Pascual Toso, presented by its chief winemaker, Felipe Stahlschmidt.
Coming out of Argentina, Pascual Toso is known for producing some of the best Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon in the Mendoza region. Stahlschmidt holds a degree in agronomic engineering and a Master’s in viticulture and enology, with more than a decade in management at some of his country’s premier vineyards.
“I’m so excited that even though they are brand new to the village, Slick Lips Seafood and Oyster Bar is taking on a private seminar with a wine dinner,” Stuckey said. “I can’t wait to hear how they develop this event!”
Village neighbor Marlin Grill is also serving a three-course dinner for two each of the four nights ($210), paired with a flight of wines from around the world. Entrées include the Marlin Grill Medley (grouper with crabmeat, ahi tuna, and mahi-mahi) and twin filets of beef. Enjoy 375mL of Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne, Sanford “Flor De Campo” Pinot Noir, and Faust Cabernet Sauvignon.
So what’s pouring this year, you might be wondering. Local staple 30a Wines will again have a tent, offering their product by Mercer Estates. Last year saw the debut of the company’s new Rosé, so we’ll be excited to see what shows up in 2018.
Among the more than 70 tents dotting Baytowne, you’ll recognize names like C Mondavi, Biltmore Wines, Trinchero, and Campari.
Wrath Wines, a vineyard out of the Santa Lucia Highlands, is known for its small, limited distribution of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc. Ca’ Momi and Old Bridge Cellars will be visiting from the Napa Valley, and you’ll see Davis Estates out of Calistoga, Calif.
Also look for representatives from Ferrari-Carano, Gerard Bertrand Wines, Rodney Strong, Krutz Family Cellars, Deutsch Family Wines, Boedecker Wines, Pappas Wines – just to name a few.
Stuckey is pleased to see so many familiar faces on the 2018 roster.
“I am most excited about having so many repeat wineries,” she said. “We’ve worked with these reps for so many years, and I’m so thankful that they continue to come back to our festival, and show off their products.”
More than meets the mouth
Don’t forget to think beyond the eats and drinks, as the Sandestin Wine Festival is a multi-sensory experience. Long-time exhibitor and coastal artist Donna Burgess of Donna Burgess Gallery will feature her exclusive artwork during the Friday and Saturday Grand Tastings. Across the events plaza, the Matt McCarty Quintet – a Gulf Coast jazz band with a unique sound – will perform Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.
For more information on the Sandestin Wine Festival – including additional events and the Savor South Walton food tents – check out 30A Food & Wine’s previous article at Sandestin Uncorks 32nd Annual Wine Festival