Wine festival welcomes sold-out crowd to Baytowne
By Michelle Farnham
April 15, 2023
SANDESTIN – The Sandestin Wine Festival has done a lot of evolving in its 36 years. Ticket holders have always been able to sample a wide array of wines from makers around the world, but a glance over this year’s Grand Tasting wine list revealed a surge in “alternative beverages.”
There were plenty of wines to be sure – more Zinfandels and Petite Sirahs and Cabernet Sauvignons than you could possibly taste, and the Bubbly & Boozy tent on the north end of the grounds has long provided guests a chance to sip on whiskeys, bourbons, rums and gins. Interspersed among the 70 tables of venders, however, were the likes of Casa Azul, a canned tequila soda; Big Machine Spiked Cocktails; Tin Roof Brewery; and Kickin’ It Coolers, vodka-infused juice pouches with a 6% ABV. Just in case you “over-sampled,” More Labs Recovery was also on site, handing out their lemon and sugar-free hangover-fighting elixir.
Over at the Michael David Winery table, fourth-time attendee Chris Reynolds and team were pouring a selection of bottles from the Lodi, Calif.-based winemaker, including the popular and colorful Freakshow Cabernet.
When asked what had been the most popular Saturday, Chris was quick to answer. “The rosé, by far!” adding that the sauvignon blanc had also seen a lot of action.
Finding common ground in both worlds, the Fun Wine table piqued the curiosity of many with their lineup of premium wine cocktails like Espresso Cabernet, Cappuccino Chardonnay, and Coconut Pineapple Chardonnay.
Guests also had a chance to nibble at a series of Savor South Walton tents positioned throughout the Wharf.
Chef Christopher Holbrook and his Signature Catering of 30A team had an evolving menu, starting with steaming cups of pho and saucy chicken wings, hand-rolled sushi and a whole mess of crawfish!
Attendees also enjoyed olive tapenade pasta salad and oven-fresh pizza from Roberto’s Pizzeria, shrimp and grits from Poppy’s Crazy Lobster, chicken teriyaki at Yaki, pulled pork sandwiches with slaw from The Village Door and sweet treats from Baytowne newcomer Dude & Meatballs.
“This festival is just fantastic,” said local resident Sheri Jeroni, who was back for her second festival. “The food is wonderful, the atmosphere is great, the lines haven’t been terrible. Everybody is friendly and the volunteers are terrific.”
Vivian Howell of Dothan was also a SWF second-timer, and enjoying her return trip just as much.
“Everything in the bourbon tent has really been great, but once you go there, you have to stay there because you don’t want to drink any more wine after that – especially in this heat!” she laughed.
The Sandestin Wine Festival is a four-day affair benefiting longtime charity partners Fisher House of the Emerald Coast and Sandestin Foundation for Kids. For more information, visit sandestinwinefestival.com.
Photos by Michelle Farnham