Tasting Triumph

Story by Sarah Murphy Robertson

South Walton hosted a diversely rich and exceptional experience this weekend as both visitors and locals were drawn to one of our area’s premiere events. The 2015 South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival virtually overflowed with culinary camaraderie, education, philanthropic feats, and let’s not forget the fantastic wine and food themselves!

To wine aficionados and novices alike, the wine celebrities at this year’s festival were magnetic. With knowledge, grace, and enthusiasm in spades, both Marc Perrin and Jean-Charles Boisset charmed the crowds and brought a level of sophistication and expertise to the event. Several unique seminars were offered Saturday and Sunday, much to the delight of true wine enthusiasts. The thought-provoking sessions touched upon the art of family wine making, cheese and wine pairings, comparing wines from two sides of the world: France and California, and bonus discussions highlighting craft scotch and bourbon production and distillery.

The festival’s lively, joyful music erupting from a talented Nashville Songwriters showcase definitely set the stage, so to speak. The rain stayed away and guests were gifted cool gulf breezes as they sipped, chatted, and tapped their toes to the melodies. The resulting vibe was carefree and jovial; with everyone in high spirits.

Established in 2005, the tenth annual Destin Charity Wine Auction dinner Saturday evening was the crown jewel of this amazing weekend. With aspirations of reaching the coveted milestone of ten million dollars in this tenth year, hardworking organizers and volunteers went above and beyond to ensure the event was flawless. Guests were energetic and engaged in the cause of supporting 14 children’s charities and within a few short hours over $2.3 Million was raised! Trips to famed French wineries or the stunning British Virgin Islands, one of a kind artwork, and case lots of rare wine were auctioned off to this dynamic and dedicated crowd. The atmosphere was aglow with smiles, cheers, music and confetti. It was a night of achievement for all the generous benefactors and the resulting benefiting kids in need.

Of course among all this positive energy wine and spirits poured from nearly one hundred vendors. Guests enjoyed exquisite sips from every varietal and regional imaginable. Champagne Lane was appropriately effervescent and the Savor South Walton Tasting Village housed food vendors providing delicious tastes of treats such as expertly crafted sushi, creamy roasted duck risotto, and peppery arugula and fresh parmesan salad.

The weekend was a memorable experience for anyone involved and as the French would say of a wildly successful endeavor, this year’s South Walton Wine and Food Festival was a true “Tour de Force!”

Photography and Video by Phil Heppding