By Sarah Murphy Robertson
The 32nd annual Sandestin Wine Festival is the longest-running wine event in the Southeast. That’s a pretty remarkable feat and those who plan this festival know it couldn’t happen without the support of those who attend year after year.
“We are always thrilled to see countless guests returning to the festival,” said Julie Stuckey, events manager for the Village of Baytowne Wharf, site of the festival. “Our loyal patrons truly make the event.”
The Sandestin Wine Festival has been named the “Best Annual Event” by Destin Magazine as it affords both wine aficionados as well as novices the chance to learn more about wine, the art of winemaking and expert pairings. Whether it is attending wine dinners with celebrity chefs or taking part in wine tastings highlighting hundreds of wines, this festival has something for everyone.
“I’m excited to work on this festival again, as I find myself learning new things about wine each year! We really have a great variety of wines from regions all over the world, and I also love discovering new wineries during the festival,” Stuckey shared.
Wine lovers will revel in the chance to chat with their favorite winemakers and, of course, the unfettered access to rarer selections. Wine novices learn more through copious sampling of all varietals and price ranges. ABC Fine Wine and Spirits Retail Tent will have selections on sale for discounted rates and the festive live music and delicious gourmet bites will pair beautifully with wine tasting.
For an extra-special experience, the VIP Lounge will be set up Friday, April 13 from 4:30 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, April 14 from 12:30 to 5 p.m. This is an exclusive preview event for the Grand Wine Tasting. Enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and specialty samples of wines as you relax in the VIP lounge upstairs at the Amenities Terrace in the Village of Baytowne Wharf. This event allows participants to bypass the lines entering the festival, and go to their favorite tents as soon as gates open. Tickets for Friday’s VIP Lounge run $100, Saturday’s is $150, or a two-day pass is $210.
The Mind.Body.Beach event at Spa Sandestin begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 14. Breathe in a new day by the peaceful, turquoise gulf waters of the beaches of South Walton, as Spa Sandestin presents a brand new event for fitness-focused guests. Bringing together three of your favorite things – yoga, mimosas, and the beach – the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort staff will lead you through this session paired with mimosas.
SunQuest Cruise’s Champagne & Seafood Lunch Cruise aboard the Solaris departs Sandestin’s Baytowne Marina Friday, April 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. In partnership with Coastal Wine & Spirits, the Solaris and its chefs are featuring an elaborate four-course, Gulf Coast seafood menu, paired with premium champagnes for $93 per person.
Brunch on the Bay with Chef Jim Shirley at Baytowne Provisions is in the works for Sunday, April 15. More details will be coming soon, but Stuckey scooped, “The sneak peek of the menu looks fantastic!”
And while it is clear this well-orchestrated weekend is full of fun, its philanthropic component should not be overlooked. Over $65,000 from the 2017 festival were donated to Fisher House and Sandestin Foundation for Kids. Each year they increase their giving, thus helping these community nonprofit partnerships grow.
Stay tuned to the Sandestin Wine Festival website as more special events are still being announced. Be sure to note: the Village of Baytowne Wharf is always open to the public and non-drinking festival guests are welcome to attend with their friends at no charge, they will simply not receive a wristband.
For more information or to purchase tickets for the Sandestin Wine Festival – which runs April 12 to 15, 2018 – visit SandestinWineFestival.com.
Publisher’s note: This article originally appeared in the 2018 Spring Edition of the Food & Wine Guide for south Walton.