Wines, vines and fork tines
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/
Images courtesy of Sandestin Wine Festival