Rosemary Beach’s Eliason encourages wine enthusiasts to shop bottle labels
ROSEMARY BEACH – Local chef and beverage professional, Sydney Eliason, announced the publication of her new book, Wine Label Shopping: Buy More Than Just a Pretty Label, encouraging wine enthusiasts to select wines based on their labels. Focusing on certain clues on a wine label, Eliason posits that everyone should label shop, contrary to conventional thinking.
“Every label has four things in common: a region, a grape varietal, an age, and an alcohol by volume. All of these impact a wine’s flavor,” Eliason says. “Some of these things – such as the region in reference to a grape’s varietal and climate – require some research. This guide provides a quick and memorable primer to assist the wine-tasting consumer.”
Once one understands how to read a wine label, one will have a better understanding of the product.
“This book is like the CliffsNotes of wine. You may not appreciate every nuance as you would if you read an entire book, but you’ll understand and be conversant about what’s going on in your glass in a very short amount of time,” Eliason says.
About the author
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Eliason worked with some of the best chefs and beverage professionals in Minneapolis prior to relocating to Florida. Based in Rosemary Beach, she launched The Somm Chef, a boutique business offering private chef events and wine classes. Eliason originally wrote Wine Label Shopping as a reference guide for clients but realized that others might benefit from its practical tasting guidance.
One of the most popular events of the year, the Sandestin Wine Festival, will take place April 15 to 18. Hosted by the Village of Baytowne, this festival offers something for wine lovers of every level, from the novice to the aficionado.
Two grand wine tastings are scheduled for Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.
“We’ll have more than 500 different types of domestic and international wines,” noted Leighann Elliott, event manager for the Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin. “And the village is kind of transformed for the festival. There are white tents, the wine is flowing, and there’s food and music. And a lot of the vineyard owners and winemakers are available, so attendees will get a chance to talk to them and learn about their wines.”
Sampling so many different types of wines and getting to learn more about the process that goes into making them often gives people an entirely new perspective.
“You might think you like chardonnay or cabernet,” Elliott said, “but then you try all of these different wines and you’re like, ‘Wow, I think I like all of them!’”
And where there is fine wine, there is also exceptional food to pair with it.
“We do what we call our ‘Taste of South Walton’ food events,” Elliot explained. “We have chefs from local restaurants who take part, so we’ll have different culinary tents.”
In addition to food and wine tastings, festival-goers can look forward to special VIP events, wine dinners, seminars, and Yoga on the Beach.
“That’s one of my favorite events,” Elliott said. “We have a yoga instructor, we offer mimosas, and everyone gets a mat that says 34th Annual Sandestin Wine Festival. It’s a great way to kick off the morning on Saturday.”
The festival, which draws people from across the country, helps benefit the community. The Village of Baytowne works with local non-profits to bring everything together.
“We work with Fisher House of the Emerald Coast and the Sandestin Foundation for Kids,” said Elliott. “They provide the volunteers for the festival. They’re the hands of the festival; they’re the ones running around, pouring the wine, and serving the food. Then we donate proceeds back to the charity.”
With last year’s festival forced to cancel due to the pandemic, organizers are thrilled to be able to host it this year. To ensure safety, most events will be held outside, some of the tents will be spaced farther apart, and hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the festival.
“This event brings in such a wide range of experiences for all of our guests. They really do get to meet wine experts from across the country. They get an opportunity to taste all of these unique, hand-selected wines. And then they have an opportunity to buy the wines at a discounted cost at the festival. So, it’s a really neat way for them to try what they like and take it home with them. We’re excited to get to see people smiling and enjoying all the festival has to offer.”
For the full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit the website.
The Sandestin Wine Festival will be held at April 15 to 18, 2021 at The Village of Baytowne Wharf in Miramar Beach. Tickets are required to participate, but the festival grounds are open to the public. Visit www.sandestinwinefestival.com or email [email protected].
Following in the footsteps of many food and wine festivals this year, organizers of the Seeing Red Wine Festival announced they have canceled this year’s event, which had been slated for Nov. 12 to 15, 2020.
“After careful thought and discussion, we have made the tough decision to cancel this year’s Seaside Seeing Red Wine Festival,” the committee said in a statement Aug. 7. “Our goal each year is to make the event better than the last. With the uncertainty surrounding COVID and the ability to have large crowd gatherings, we knew it would not be possible to put on the level of quality festival you our guests come to expect.
“We hope that we can produce an unforgettable event in 2021. In the meantime, we hope everyone stays safe and healthy.”
ALYS BEACH – A drive down Scenic Highway 30A through Alys Beach offers views of unparalleled luxury and beauty, a vibe reflected in the community’s NEAT Tasting Room & Bottle Shop.
Situated right on 30A, NEAT is the definition of chic elegance, with its mostly monochromatic décor, sleek white marble, and leather sling chairs. Pops of red give visual interest against the driftwood-inspired woodwork, while upholstered cushions abound, softening the space.
During the day, the three-room complex is flooded with sunshine and palm tree views, while at night, the floor-to-ceiling windows reveal the twinkle of stars over the water. NEAT offers both indoor and outdoor seating, giving you the option of gentle Gulf breezes or the comfort of air conditioning – whichever the day calls for.
NEAT really is two businesses in one: the Bottle Shop is a retail space, with barware and impressive labels like Aperitivo Cappelletti, Southern Amaro, Michael Mondavi, obscure Chenin blancs from India, a budding organic section, as well as old standards. The Tasting Room serves as a bar area complete with a masterfully curated food menu.
Alys Beach Executive Chef Drew Dzejak oversees the provisions, keeping the direction of the food in line with the beach town’s sensibility. Manager Hunter Church said the menu generally stays the same, but they will work in a few seasonal foods – heartier entrees in the winter, more fresh vegetables and acidity in the spring.
“Our big sellers are of course cheese and charcuterie boards, which is a fantastic thing to pair with wine and cocktails,” Church said. “We work with some relatively local dairies and meat suppliers.”
He pointed to the selection of dips that always please, including a tzatziki-style whipped feta dip with olive tapenade. Smoked salmon has taken many forms since NEAT started offering food two seasons ago, as with the smoked salmon dip with créme fraîche, chives, dill, salmon roe, and kettle chips. Look for a handful of sweet treats to savor as well.
The hand-crafted cocktail menu rotates monthly, with half a dozen options reflecting the tastes of the season. Come spring and summer, you’ll see brighter flavors like watermelon and fresh citrus.
“That being said, we can always do any of the classic cocktails someone might be looking for,” Church assured. “A nice cosmo, old fashioned, Manhattan, classic daiquiris – and then riffs on those as well. There are a few fan favorites, like the Flight of the Concord: well-rounded whiskey, lemon, Amaro Nonino, fresh strawberries, basil and candied ginger.”
To give you an idea of the craftsmen and women behind the bar, Church alluded to drinks using jalapeño tinctures and seasonal sangrias. On this day, NEAT was offering a tequila flight – four half-ounce pours – of Riazul Plata, Codigo 1530 Rosa Blanco, Corzo Reposado, and Clase Azul Mezcal.
“Alys Beach as a whole is almost an art installment, and cocktails work in that same fashion. They are an artistic expression that is just really delicious.” – Hunter Church, manager
“Alys Beach as a whole is almost an art installment, and cocktails work in that same fashion. They are an artistic expression that is just really delicious,” Church said.
Wine tastings are held each Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. throughout the year. Guests enjoy live music as they’re led through four (or more) bottles by winemakers and distributors, along with suggested menu pairings. Whiskey and spirits tastings pop up a few times a year as well.
The team will roll out the red carpet for special Alys Beach events like the 30A Wine Festival in February and Digital Graffiti in May. They hold bar takeovers with spirit specialists, and are planning cocktail classes earlier in the day.
“People can come in, get a little hands-on, and actually pour and play with making cocktails,” Church forecasted. “We’ll choose a theme, like maybe whiskey drinks, one day will be stirred drinks, another day shaken.”
NEAT is located at 11 N. Castle Harbor Drive in Alys Beach. The staff is serving Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday noon to 11 p.m. Reservations are not accepted. Keep an eye out for special events on Facebook and Instagram. Find them on the Web at alysbeach.com/neat
Chef Jim Shirley brings part of his latest venture back online
April 22, 2020 Special to 30A Food & Wine
SANTA ROSA BEACH – To help combat Florida’s stay-at-home order, Chef Jim Shirley reopened the online store at his latest culinary venture, Farm & Fire Southern Pizzeria, located at 24200 US-331, Santa Rosa Beach.
While the dining room portion of the business remains temporarily closed, the store side features dry goods, pre-packaged foods and fresh foods, beer and wine, as well as hot food from the restaurant such as coal-fired pizza, burgers, and much more.
Order online at bit.ly/FFgrocery and choose curbside pickup or delivery (for locations within six miles). The delivery is contactless and the curbside pick-up allows customers to stay in their cars. This shop local option is available from noon to 8 p.m. daily.
New events, culinary delights and featured winemakers and seminars bring fresh approach to 2018 event
Miramar Beach, Fla. (February 27, 2018) – America’s most renowned wine and food festivals have four main ingredients—celebrity winemakers, top culinary talent, thought-provoking tasting seminars, and elements that highlight and celebrate current trends. The South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival, April 26 – 29, combines these elements to create the ultimate wine weekend in Northwest Florida. Held in Grand Boulevard at Sandestin’s Town Center, the 2018 South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival will feature a dazzling roster of celebrity winemakers, distillers, chefs, brew masters and entertainers while introducing grand new features, including the Rosé All Day Garden, provocative seminars with industry leaders and culinary masters, aiming to please every palate.
“We’ve watched Rosés grow and grow in popularity, and wanted to replace Champagne Lane with something new,” said Chan Cox, founder of the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival and owner for Wine World. “Inspired by New York City Rosé festivals, including La Nuit en Rosé and Pinknic, we believe the Rosé All Day Garden will beautifully complement our April weather.”
Presented by ResortQuest, the Rosé All Day Garden will feature Rosés from around the globe, including Italy, Spain, France, South America and from North America, California and Oregon. The entire Grand Park will be transformed into all things Rosé. From pink décor to machines whipping out Frosé, a popular frozen drink made with Hendrix Gin and Marques De Caceres Rioja Rosé, the Garden will be blooming pink. Rosé vodka, Rosé champagne, Rosé sparkling wines and Rosé wine from domestic and international vineyards will be among the hundred different tasting options. Attendees are invited to embrace the theme by donning their favorite pink, rose or blush colored attire. A photo booth and Rosé swag from ResortQuest give guests every opportunity to see and drink pink.
“Europeans have been drinking Rosés forever. However, in the last four or five years, Americans began discovering European Rosés, which are light in color with lots of flavor yet dry,” said Chan Cox, founder of the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival and owner of Chan’s Wine World. “Dry rosés are so versatile. They go with anything and they are pleasant for warm summer enjoyment.”
Educational tasting seminars are another critical element of a world-class wine festival, and the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival will once again feature highly-sought after winemakers and master distillers from around the world sharing their knowledge and love of producing fine wines and spirits.
On Saturday, April 28, Anthony and Olive Hamilton Russell of Hamilton Russell Vineyards as well as Southern Right and Ashbourne wineries will lead the first seminar beginning at 1:30 p.m.
Honoring one of the master distillers featured at the Craft Beer & Spirits Jam on Friday (4/27), Master Distiller with Maker’s Mark, Rob Samuels, will lead an educational tasting seminar on Saturday (4/28) from 2:45 – 3:30 p.m.
Among the master distillers at the 2018 Craft Beer & Spirits Jam and featured within Spirits Row at the Grand Tasting will be Master Distiller Dave Pickerell of WhistlePig.
On Sunday (4/29) from 1:30 – 2:15 p.m., Mathieu Pouchan of Salon Delamotte will lead a tasting seminar on the timeless classic, Champagne.
Oregon wine pioneer David Adelsheim’s Sunday tasting seminar will focus on the Pinot Noirs that put Oregon wines on the map. His seminar runs 2:45 – 3:30 p.m.
Finally, a grand wine festival deserves an exceptional culinary program, and the Savor South Walton Culinary Village is set to deliver delicacies that pair beautifully with the wines. Lead by the Culinary Director of Wine World’s The Wine Bar and The Craft Bar, Scott Plumley, the creative spread infuses local produce along with local meats from Heureux Beef just north of Defuniak Springs, Fla., and Coastal Blue Farms in Freeport, Fla. With distinct flavor profiles to blend acidity with bases and balance the wines, the menu includes: Alabama goat cheese fritters with San Marzano Tomato Sauce; avocado sourdough paired with marinated baby tomatoes and Aleppo pepper; Heureux Beef slider topped with aged gouda, tomato-bacon marmalade, and Coastal Blue Farms Micro Arugula; as well as Low Country Shrimp and Grits paired with Conecuh Sausage, Shellfish Nage and Collard Greens.
Award-winning cheeses will also be on the menu. Presented by Gourmet Foods International, world-renowned cheese expert and educator Michael Landis will present a sampling of the American Cheese Society’s Medal-winning cheeses.
The four-day celebration of wine also includes Craft Beer & Spirits Jam, Spirits Row, Nosh Pavilions, live entertainment and more than 800 wines poured by knowledgeable wine industry insiders.
Presented by Wine Enthusiast Media, Grand Boulevard at Sandestin and Visit South Walton, the festival offers the ideal backdrop for a beach getaway. The Festival is made possible by the generous support of the following Founding Partners: Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, Visit South Walton Tourist Development Council, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, Wine World of Northwest Florida and Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals is the official lodging partner of the festival.
About South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival
This year’s annual South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival will be held April 26-29, 2018 throughout the Town Center of Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. The festival features a stunning showcase of the best wines in the world. Meet the celebrity wine producers and master distillers presenting their fine wine and spirits from around the world. The Savor South Walton Culinary Village offers a sumptuous array of foods to taste, wines to pair, as well as wine and food tasting seminars. Visit the new Rosé All Day Garden, Spirits Row and Nosh Pavilions and enjoy live entertainment throughout the weekend. The Craft Beer & Spirits Jam and Winemakers & Shakers events round out the extended festival weekend. The event is a major fundraiser for Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, which benefits children in need in Northwest Florida. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.SoWalWine.com.
Be sure and tag all your photos with #30afoodandwine and follow 30A Food and Wine to stay up to date on all the latest food, wine, and chef news in South Walton
Preview more than 600 wines including new medal winners
Miramar Beach, Fla. – (Jan. 17, 2018) – South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival presents its first festival event of the year, Tasting of Champions, on Friday, February 2 at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Guests will have an exclusive “first taste” of the medal winning wines that will be featured in the upcoming South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival, April 26-29.
“This is an exclusive opportunity to get a preview and taste the festival wines in advance of the actual event in April,” said Stacey Brady, executive director of South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival. “Those who attend Tasting of Champions will be among an elite group who get to preview the medal winning wines first. In addition, the event is a great value. For the price of a couple of bottles of wine, wine lovers will have the opportunity to sample many varietals of wine from the most popular vineyards and wine growing regions around the world.”
Volunteers will be pouring more than 600 wines entered in the competition and there will be approximately 250 medal winners that are judged just prior to the event by a panel of 21 wine experts from around the country. The judges select a gold, silver, and bronze medal winner in each of approximately 80 categories.
Tasting of Champions allows the public to taste all the wines entered in the competition, including “Best in Show Red” and “Best in Show White” winners. The event is structured in a walkabout format with the wines grouped by category, making it an ideal event for wine aficionados and beginners alike. In addition, the event will feature live music by local favorite Mari Gleason, passed hors-d’oeuvre and a dessert display.
For those wishing to continue enjoying the weekend, Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa is offering special room rates, starting at $129/night. To reserve a room, click here and input group code “THE.”
The event is a prelude to the 2018 Northwest Florida Beaches Ultimate Wine Week, April 26-29. Wine, charity and fun converge as the world’s most preeminent winemakers and wine enthusiasts gather for South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival and Destin Charity Wine Auction.
Proceeds from Tasting of Champions as well as South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival benefit Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, helping children in need in Northwest Florida. Tickets are $50 per person and may be purchased at SoWalWine/tickets.
This year marks the first annual Holiday Gift Guide and Giveaway from the team here at 30afoodandwine.com.
We’ll bring you 12 things to cover your gift buying needs for the foodie and wine lover on your list. Want to win the whole bag of Santa’s goodies? Make sure you register each day to win. You can enter here:
First up on our list is a stocking stuffer for the wine lover on your list. Clinton’s Napa Kitchen, a new wine from Chan Cox, owner of Wine World, is currently available at Wine World stores throughout Northwest Florida. We recommend adding both the red blend and Cabernet Sauvignon to your must haves this holiday season.
A recent press release from the Destin Charity Wine Auction had this to say:
“Of course, this is a special wine for many reasons, but I think for customers what will stand out is the value. This is Howell Mountain fruit; Napa wine drinkers know the incredible quality of wine that comes from that appellation, but it’s all very expensive – often hundreds of dollars per bottle. Clinton’s has that same character without the price tag,” said Owner of Wine World, Chan Cox.
The red blend and Cabernet Sauvignon sell for $24.99 and $29.99 respectively. For every bottle of Clinton’s Napa Kitchen sold, $2 will be donated to Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation. These proceeds collected from Clinton’s sales will be allocated directly to Pathways for Change, one of fifteen different children’s charities DCWAF supports each year.
“The team at Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation is so thankful for the continual support from our friends at Wine World. Their generosity is critical to the success of our organization, to Pathways for Change, and to the other charities we support,” said DCWAF President John Russell.
Once the line is sold out at 5,000 bottles, it will have raised $10,000 for the charity. Anyone interested in drinking wine for a good cause can find Clinton’s Napa Kitchen exclusively at Wine World stores and restaurants, and online at chanswineworld.com. Wine lovers can also contribute to DCWAF’s mission while attending one of the organization’s world class wine & culinary events.
So make sure you pick up a bottle of Clinton’s Napa Kitchen. We are giving away a bottle of each one – the red blend and the Cabernet Sauvignon – in the Grand Prize so be sure and register today. And don’t forget to stay tuned to 30aFoodandwine.com each day as we announce a new gift for our Holiday Gift Guide and Giveaway.
So a wonderful wine that also has a direct impact on Children’s Charities in Northwest Florida. To purchase online, visit Wine World today.
Baytowne Wharf Events Manager Julie Stuckey said both Friday and Saturday’s Grand Tastings sold out, with about 1,500 and 2,200 tickets sold, respectively.
“Selling out both days was huge,” Stuckey said. “It’s the first time it’s happened in a couple years, so it was very exciting to hit those numbers again.”
Following market trends, it seemed the unofficial theme of the grand tastings was “Rosé all day,” as many booths were asking tasters to think pink. Temps in the low 80s with strong sunshine probably encouraged the chilled wines to move a little faster, too.
Featured wine sponsor Meiomi Wines poured its Rosé – featuring aromas of watermelon and orange peel – along with their 2015 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The California winemaker set up home – literally – at the start of the walk o’ wines. The company brings a 20-by-20-foot portable bungalow to enhance the wine-tasting experience. A crew member said the home comes in on a truck and is set up in 24 hours, as it makes its rounds to wine festivals.
30A Wines by Mercer Estates also had a bottle of pink to share in the newly debuted Rosé, as well as the Chardonnay and Red Blend.
“They’ve been especially loving the rosé because it’s a warm day, so it’s the perfect thing to sip,” said Lauren Edwards, managing editor of 30A Company. “It’s a drier rosé and it’s a small batch, so once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Second level sommelier Julie Pepi, director of the Heritage Collection for Trinchero Family Estates and an ambassador for Terra d’Oro Winery, was on hand for both the grand tasting and as a wine seminar presenter. Her exhibition “Wines of Terra d’Oro” highlighted the products of Amador County (California) with an Italian flair.
“The Terra d’Oro Chenin Blanc Viognier has taken the crowd by storm, which is awesome because it’s kind of our niche little thing. I thought we’d see how it would work, and people love it!” Pepi said.
Offering Italian wines like the 2015 La Villa Pinot Grigio and the La Gioiosa Prosecco, Vintage Distributors representative Frank Gordon’s supply was completely tapped out by early Saturday afternoon.
“People especially responded to the Prosecco; it’s a style that’s been gaining popularity, especially with the resurgence of dining at home,” Gordon said.
Perhaps no place was the party going stronger than in the Champagne Tent area. With cornhole games set up on the sun-soaked lawn, comfortable seating options under the tent, and delicious cocktails at the ready, the mood was plenty festive. Ketel One Vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Don Julio Tequila and Naked Turtle Rum offered an alternative to the wines down the hill, alongside sweet treats from Holy Cakes.
Also mixing things up were the work of artist Donna Burgess and live music from an assortment of musicians on the events plaza.
Ryan and Chelsea James of Navarre, and Luke and Risa Yuhico of Fort Walton Beach, had a great time in the Epic Photo Co. booth. This is their second year attending, and they walked away with a souvenir snapshot from the 2017 installment.
Bites to keep you going
Those wanting to keep the ABVs under control could swing by one of the food tents to sample the handiwork of local chefs. For example, Chef Christopher Holbrook offered a selection of sushi rolls at The Bellamy of 30A tent. He said the spicy shrimp with coconut crunchies and Thai peanut sauce was particularly popular, as was the Boudreaux Roll, with its crawfish, ginger, Andouille and corn.
Laurie Grapner, the new executive chef at Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, was carving up a prime New York strip steak with mushrooms, the aroma of which filled the Baytowne Wharf events plaza. A quick stroll down that aisle led to the Publix stand, featuring mini cannoli, signature cheeses and a Cajun krab spread.
“You want to try the best thing here? Try this Krab spread. It’s amazing,” assured one repeat customer.
Set up in front of their new digs, Baytowne Wharf newcomer Baytowne Provisions plated fried macaroni and cheese with a raspberry sauce.
From the food vendors to the winemakers to the volunteers, Stuckey said it really does take a village to pull off an event of this magnitude.
“It’s after these events that you realize how thankful you are for all these community partners that make this festival happen,” she concluded. Plans are already underway for the 2018 festival, with dates to be announced in the future.
31st annual Sandestin Wine Festival to feature over 90 purveyors
April 9th, 2017
By Michelle Farnham
It’s nearly time to raise a glass and toast the 31st annual Sandestin Wine Festival, running April 20 to 23.
During the two Grand Wine Tastings – held Friday and Saturday – ticket holders will be able to fill their etched Riedel commemorative wine glass with more than 500 domestic and international wines.
Meiomi Wines is a featured wine sponsor and will offer up three California coastal wines: the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the Rosé. Baytowne Wharf Events Manager Julie Stuckey said to look for them in the Meiomi Home, a 20- by 20-foot portable California-style bungalow.
“They’re going to have a cottage that they’ve turned into this really cool tasting place,” Stuckey said. “You’ll be able to come up and taste the Meiomi, sit and relax, and talk with their representatives.”
Tasting guide highlights
Festival organizers are pleased to host over 80 winemakers, exclusive VIP opportunities, plus the champagne tent, which includes Naked Turtle White Rum, Don Julio Tequila and more. Of the vineyards, wine aficionados might recognize such labels as Quintessential Wines of Napa, Calif.; Charles Smith Wines of Washington, Boedecker Cellars of Oregon, J. Lohr Vineyards out of California, and Pappas Wine Co. from the Willamette Valley.
The festival has partnered with Ketel One Vodka, and welcomes to the champagne tent Regional Brand Ambassador Dianna Greene-Cowan, who will offer several specialty cocktails of her own making. Ketel One is also introducing a special Arnold Palmer Collector’s Edition bottle.
Diageo Reserve Rum Ambassador Robert Pallone will be set up in the champagne tent, sharing hand-crafted Ron Zacapa Rum cocktails.
Stuckey also revealed that local favorite 30A Wines by Mercer Estates (Washington state) would be pouring their new Rosé, in addition to their Chardonnay and red blend. Pensacola’s own DeLuna Winery – known for such fruity combinations as the Cherry Bomb and the Strawberry Kiwi Splash – will be in attendance as well.
“What I love about this festival: we have wine connoisseurs, and then we have the novices who come because it sounds like fun and they want to learn,” Stuckey said. “There are so many ways to learn about a new wine with a winemaker there that you can talk to.”
Seminars add to the experience
In addition to the Grand Tastings, two supplemental wine seminars are on the schedule, giving attendees a more exclusive educational experience with the winemakers themselves. The $30 ticket price for each seminar includes appetizers from Chef Christopher Holbrook of Signature Catering of 30-A.
“Wines of South Africa” is slated for Friday from 4 to 5 p.m. Cellar Master Johan Malan of Simonsig Wine Estate will feature the vineyard’s Chenin Blanc, Pilotage, Shiraz/Cab Blend and the Brut. “A Glimpse into Cal-Ital Wine Varietals” will be held Saturday at 6 p.m. Terra D’Oro winemaker Jeff Meyers hosts a tasting of their varietals, including the Barbera, Estate Zinfandel, Teroldego and the Moscato.
So what will be the most popular bottle this year? Stuckey said based on previous experience, it’s anyone’s guess.
“It’s so funny, new wineries ask what sold the best in the past, and honestly, it changes every year,” Stuckey said. “It’s hard to predict what that trend is going to be. It depends on the weather; it depends on what everybody tasted as they walked around the festival.”
Held at The Village of Baytowne Wharf, pre-sale tickets are available at sandestinwinefestival.com at $55 for Friday’s Grand Tasting and $85 for Saturday. The day-of prices increase to $65 and $95, respectively. Entry includes the Savor South Walton food tents, scattered throughout the festival. For 30A Food & Wine’s comprehensive story on the Sandestin Wine Festival, visit http://30afoodandwine.com/let-uncorking-begin-31st-annual-sandestin-wine-festival/