Director cites national recommendations, ‘abundance of caution’
March 13, 2020 Courtesy of Stacey Brady, executive director South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the cancellation of the 2020 South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival. This is not a decision we made lightly, yet in light of the national and state recommendations to not hold large-scale events, we are following their directives.
At this time, we do not have a specific issue with the COVID-19 virus in our area, however; we believe the prudent choice is to not hold our festival – which attracts more than 5,000 – out of an abundance of caution.
Our sister event and the recipient of our festival proceeds, Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, has postponed their immensely popular auction until Aug. 22. This is great news since their auction fundraising is critical to support 16 charities in Northwest Florida. Their event takes place in a huge air-conditioned tent that is very comfortable. Unfortunately, the significant heat and humidity we get here at the beach in August is not conducive to an outdoor wine event.
We are currently working with our ticket agency on refund messaging. We are planning a great incentive to induce ticket holders to keep their tickets which will be good for next year’s festival.
We are disappointed, too! We are also very grateful to our long-time attendees, distributors, suppliers, vendors and especially our sponsors and founding partners. We will be contacting sponsors and ticket holders shortly with options.
A very special thank you to our very sad festival staff who are actually the best staff in the world!
Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to presenting a fabulous charity wine festival for 2021.
South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival raises millions for kids
By Michelle Farnham
If you can’t find a wine you like at the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival, it doesn’t exist. With more than 800 bottles spread across more than 100 booths – including a 22-table Rosé All Day Garden – there is something to please every palate.
Friday night’s Craft Beer & Spirits Jam kicked off the Grand Boulevard festivities, with 59 stations pouring everything from Kerry Gold Irish Cream to Boggy Bayou Stout to Rattlesnake Rosie’s Apple Pie Whiskey.
Eats Street gave tasters a chance to sample food, like the pecan-smoked chicken wings with Alabama white sauce slaw from Grayton Beer Brewpub, shrimp rolls from Roux 30a, and the slow-roasted Chinese-style spare rib from South Walton newcomer Nanbu Noodle Bar.
One guest returned to the La Cocina Mexican Grill & Bar station to rave about the tuna tacos with pear and pineapple kimchi and charred tomatillo salsa.
“Listen, I don’t eat tuna or kimchi or cilantro, and look: I have a clean plate,” she admitted. “This is delicious!”
The Grand Tastings Saturday and Sunday gave winemakers their chance to shine, including a special selection of Jackson Family Wines inside the Culinary Village.
Haley Wells with Artisans & Estates was on hand pouring Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Ex Post Facto Syrah and – the fan favorite – the Hartford Court Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.
“This event is incredible. I’ve done a ton of these festivals with Jackson Family and I’ve never seen anything to this extent before,” she said. “Everyone keeps coming up saying, ‘I want the Russian River!’ The valley has a really well known presence when it comes to Pinot Noirs, and they’re well-trusted. This one is very well accoladed by (wine advocate) Robert Parker.”
Tasting seminars give festival-goers a chance to dig deeper into the flavors they love. Bill Samuels Jr., retired president and chairman emeritus of Maker’s Mark, shared glimpses of his incredible life at the center of the Kentucky bourbon scene.
“Pappy Van Winkle gave me my first drink – I was 12,” Samuels admitted. “He said ‘just two fingers’ and I didn’t know what he was talking about.”
He expanded on his mission to evolve Marker’s Mark, moving the flavor profiles by changing ingredient ratios to create Maker’s 46 Bourbon.
Other presenters included Michael Landis of the Institut du Fromage, pairing meats and cheeses with Jackson Family Wines; and Eugenia Keegan, Erik Kramer and Mollie Battenhouse, speaking on “The Origin and Evolution of Oregon Wines.”
Wine-tasters Marie and Jonathan Wilson were in town from Atlanta, celebrating Marie’s birthday.
“I am super excited to be here,” Marie said, admitting she’d found a new favorite Riesling. “Everything is so nice, and the variety of wines is impressive.”
Late Sunday afternoon, Steve Jager of Birmingham was enjoying his final sips with wife Annalisa, as a breeze blew through the Rosé pavilion.
“It’s hard to pick a favorite, there’s a lot of great things. On the wine side, probably the Krupp from the VIP tent Friday night. After three days of this, it’s hard to keep track! Friday night was enjoyment to excess!“ Jager admitted, recalling that this was his fifth time in town for the festival.
“We were surprised by the Argentina wines, they were always good,” added his friend Ted Stuckenschneider. “The Rosé tent was wonderful; everybody is enjoying this and the weather was delightful. As past president of the International Food and Wine Society in Birmingham, I had to plan 22 wine events a year for two years, and so, I think I can tell you this was a good one.”
Paddles in the air
As if a 3-day wine and food festival isn’t enough for one weekend, the Destin Charity Wine Auction is held concurrently at Grand Boulevard, all working to raise funds for more than a dozen local children’s charities.
A pre-auction reserve tasting gave patrons a chance to meet and mingle while sampling elevated wines and bites, like the pan-seared scallops with mango beurre blanc from Vue on 30a, the New York strip with mushrooms and apricot demi gloss from Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood, and the poached Gulf shrimp with English pea puree by Caliza Restaurant.
Once the party got started in the auction hall, DCWAF President John Russell reminded the crowd that in the auction’s 13-year history, the foundation has raised over $18 million for Northwest Florida children’s charities.
“We’re going to drink wine, but our mission is clear,” Russell said. “There are a lot of children in need … if you stay committed, we’ll break $20 million today.”
Combining the $685,000 raised during the previous night’s patron dinners, combined with winning bids like $55,000 for the 50-bottle Magnum Force lot, $40,000 for a trip to Sea Island, Ga., and $36,000 to make your own barrel of Maker’s Mark bourbon in Kentucky, that mark was quickly surpassed.
The DCWAF’s next event is the Harvest Wine & Food Festival, scheduled for Oct. 24 to 26, 2019. The 15 th annual Destin Charity Wine Auction weekend is April 24 to 26, 2020.
South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival Preview
Story by Sarah Murphy Robertson
The extensive schedule for this year’s South Walton Food and Wine Festival is teeming with many (many!) wonderful features. Locals and visitors will surely be buzzing about all these fantastic events. And, we here at www.30afoodandwine.com will be running a giveaway for two tickets as well! Stay tuned for details.
• Beginning Thursday April 23rd is the VIP Meet and Greet. From 4 until 8 pm at the Sandestin Hilton, this invitation-only reception will treat guests to fabulous local food – including freshly shucked oysters – and of course premiere wine and craft beers. Live entertainment will round out the reception and kick off to the wonderful weekend ahead.
• Wine World in Destin will host Friday April 24th’s event, known as Winemakers and Shakers. From 4 pm until 6pm, world-known winemakers will enjoy incredible sips.
• Also, on Friday April 24th, is the Craft Beer and Spirits Jam. From 6 – 9pm at Town Center and Grand Park, guests can sample specialty craft beers and sprits from breweries and distilleries, sample yummy eats, and enjoy live music by Boukou Groove.
• Saturday April 25th is when the things really get rolling. Starting with a VIP Wine Tasting at Grand Park from 11 am to 1 pm, this experience will feature top wine celebrities sharing rarely encountered wines. Food tastings from local restaurants and celebrity chefs Laurent Deconink and Michel Cornu.
• From 1 until 3 pm Saturday the annual Destin Charity Wine Auction will allow guests to bid on silent auction items including vacations and collectable wines while supporting dozens of local children’s charities.
• Between 1 and 5 pm Saturday is the Grand Tasting at Town Center and Culinary Village. Over 800 wines will be available at the Grand Tasting, much to the ultimate enjoyment of ticket purchasers.
• Also on Saturday between 1 – 5 pm is Champagne Lane, featuring the finest Champagnes and sparkling wines. In addition to tasting delicious bubbles, you can watch art demonstrations by South Walton Artist of the Year.
• Tasting Seminars will take place between 1 – 5 pm throughout the Grand Tastings in Culinary Village. Learn how best to pair wine with food while sampling fine wines and spirits.
• Hey, let’s do it all over again! From 1 – 5 pm at Town Center Sunday April 26th brings the second day of Grand Tastings, bubbly Champagne Lane strolls, and fabulous Tasting Seminars. Culinary Village will have more delicious food bites, selected to go with all varietals of these fine wines. Keeping everyone tapping their toes, both on Saturday and Sunday, talented songwriters from Nashville will perform their hits.
What an incredible weekend just around the corner for wine and food lovers alike! Be sure to secure your tickets today and get ready for a world-renown experience here in South Walton. For more information or to purchase your tickets, visit www.sowalwine.com.
Photography Courtesy of South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival
Posted by Phil Heppding
Story by Sarah Murphy Robertson
Photography of Jean-Charles Boisset courtesy of Moanalani Jeffrey Photography
Additional Photography courtesy of South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival
Welcome to Wine Wednesday on 30A. For the month of April, the team here at 30afoodandwine.com will bring you some unique insights into to vintners, chefs and events of the South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival that takes place April 23-26. As we get closer to the event, we will be giving away tickets to the festival. Want a chance to win? Make sure you are signed up for our email updates and stay tuned for a few ways to wine tickets to this world-class event.
Born in Burgundy, France into a family tradition of winemaking, Jean-Charles has forged his own path by implementing biodynamic and organic farming and expansion into twelve vineyards in France and seven in California. Since 2007 he has been listed as one of the fifty most important people in wine by Decanter magazine and having access to him at this local festival is a true honor. He will be on hand to sign bottles from winners of the live auction and his personal chef will be preparing tastes; pairings that are sure to enhance and elevate these exquisite wines to thrilling heights.
Boisset’s knowledge and passion for winemaking fueled him to elevate his family’s winery into a premiere and innovative boutique experience. He reveres all of his collection’s creations and each of Jean-Charles Boisset’s JCB wines is referenced by a number. Pinot Noir Cremant de Bourgogne No. 69 refers to the year of his birth in 1969. It is crafted with Pinot Noir grapes from the Burgundy region of France, and is an aromatic rosé brut – dry, light, and crisp with vibrant, thirst-quenching appeal and raspberry notes. It would pair well with a brunch of delicately caramelized shallot frittata or as an apéritif with a freshly grilled shrimp appetizer.
This year the South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival will be held April 23rd-26th at Grand Boulevard in Sandestin and on Saturday will highlight the Destin Charity Wine Auction where attendees can bid on rare collectible wines, vacation packages, and other luxuries. The proceeds will benefit local children’s charities and we feel privileged to keep you informed on the incredible experiences this esteemed four day festival has to offer. For more information and to purchase your tickets, visit www.SoWalWine.com