Sixth annual wine fest delights sold-out crowd
By Michelle Farnham
Oct. 17, 2022
WATERCOLOR – Tickets to the Harvest Wine & Food Festival were a hot commodity, as entrance to all four of the weekend’s events – a pair of wine dinners, Saturday’s grand tasting and Sunday’s brunch – were all sold out.
Chef Nick Brothers represented Swiftly Catered at the sixth annual grand tasting, serving tuna poke cups and tuna wonton chips, as well as Chef Kyle Swift’s famous gluten-free puddle cookies. This was Brothers’ first time at the Harvest Festival, and he was impressed with everything he saw.
“We’ve got a great spot right here at the end, it’s the first place people stop by, and they keep coming back! They love our food,” Brothers said.
Atlanta-based Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q returned to the anchor spot, delighting ticket-holders with entire plates full of saucy meats. Also available for nibbles was cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy, chocolate truffles from The Perfect Pig, humus and baba ghanoush from Mano’s Authentic Healthy Foods, and a trio of cookies from Jonesing 4 Cookies, to name a few.
Of course no wine festival would be complete with out the wine, with bottles ranging from rose to riesling and everything in between.
Ashli and Doug Cohen of Salt Wine Company had their product at two tables, as they are also the supplier for the 30A Wine label. At her table, Ashli had bottles of their 2021 Greetings Pinot Gris, as well as five Pinot Noirs.
“They’re like our children, you know, you love them all,” Ashli said with a laugh. “We produce these wines off of vineyards that we control from bud break to bottle, so everything is estate. It has been a very successful day for us, and we’re happy to be one of the few winemakers represented here today.
Among those bottles was the Carter’s Lot Pinot Noir, which is made in partnership with Wine World owner and local wine festival legend Chan Cox.
“This is named after Chan’s grandson Carter, so it’s a private label for Chan,” explained Doug, also pointing to the Chef’s Table Pinot Noir. “This wine has a special connection to this festival. Twenty-four dollars per case sold of this wine goes to Northwest Florida children’s charities, and this is the only place you can buy this wine retail around the country. Otherwise it’s just a restaurant wine, but because of the donation to charity, we allow Chan to sell it here.”
To add a little variety to the mix, Harvest Wine Festival also hosts a beer garden – including Beach Camp Brewery, Third Planet Brewery, and Oyster City Brewing Company – as well as a selection of spirits, like Dune Laker Vodka, Cathead Distillery, and industry newcomer Mom Water, a carbonation-free flavored vodka water.
VIPs were treated to samples from Booker Vineyard, Tarpon Cellars, Reynolds Family Winery and Penta Tequila, among others, as well as premium bites from Henderson Beach Resort, Blue Mabel Restaurant, Soleil and The Citizen.
Local residents Rex and Julie Barrentine were back for their second Harvest Fest, and were specifically seeking out Italian wines.
“We absolutely love this event. It’s very well laid out, and today my favorite has been the Good Clean Wine,” Julie said, pointing to Table 27 which was pouring Toscano Bianco, Cabernet Sauvignon and Synchronized Swimming Rose, which touted its organic grapes, low sugar and no added sulfites.
Harvest Wine Festival is put on by the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, raising money for Northwest Florida children’s charities. The foundation’s next major event is the wine auction weekend, slated for April 28 to 30, 2023, in conjunction with the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival.