Wining and dining, beach-style
Grand Boulevard plays host to South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival April 27-30
By Michelle Farnham
The motto of the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival says it all: “It’s More Than a Festival – It’s A Lifestyle.”
The 2017 installment of this renowned gala brings together vintners, restaurateurs, brewers, distillers, musicians and the people who love their handiwork. Add in one noble charitable foundation plus the majestic Grand Boulevard Town Center setting, and you have the South Walton lifestyle wrapped up in one four-day event, April 27 to 30.
Kicking things off from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday is the Winemakers and Shakers event ($40) at Wine World Destin, 4424 Commons Drive East, Suite E3, Destin. Back at Grand Boulevard that night, the Craft Beer & Spirits Jam ($35) brings together brewers, distillers and food along “Eats Street” from 6 to 9 p.m.
They call it “Grand” for a reason
The VIP Wine Tasting event sold out weeks in advance, but fear not. With over 800 wines to sample and 100 tents to visit – including 18 stops on Spirits Row, Champagne Lane, Nosh Pavilions, and the Savor South Walton Culinary Village – the Grand Tastings offer more than enough to keep guests busy Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. ($99 each day or $175 for both days).
Grand Boulevard Marketing Director Stacey Brady admitted guests might need two days to put a dent in the tasting guide.
“If you enjoy the seminars, then it’s ideal to taste exclusive wines or exclusive spirits there; then you’ll want that second day to explore the rest of the festival,” Brady said.
Seminars: taking a closer taste
Speaking of those oh-so-popular seminars, 96 seats are set out on a first-come first-served basis, and the tents always end up standing-room-only.
So who’s presenting this year? Don Hartford of Hartford Family Winery and Jackson Family Wines gets things going Saturday at 1:15 p.m. At 2:30, Franco Massolino of Massolino Wines (Italy) takes you on “A Walk Through Piedmont.” Tommy Brunett of Iron Smoke Whiskey is featured at 3:30.
On Sunday, Laurent Gruet of Gruet Winery and Jameson Fink of Wine Enthusiast Magazine present “French Roots; American Dreams” at 1:30, and Gruet will also be featured on Champagne Lane from 2 to 4 both days. Glenn Salva from Antica Napa Valley gives his “Antinori Heritage Explored through Cabernet” at 3 p.m.
“Glenn Salva is going to compare three old-world Antinori wines with three new-world Antica Napa Valley wines. That’s going to be really, really wonderful,” Brady assured.
Going once, going twice…
As famous as the festival itself, the 12th annual Destin Charity Wine Auction gets underway Saturday with the reserve tasting and silent auction at 1 p.m., and the live auction at 3. Donating more than $13 million to Northwest Florida charities over the years, Wine Spectator Magazine has named the DCWA one of the nation’s Top 10 charity wine auctions four years running. Word on the street is that once the bidding begins, anything can happen. For patron package ticket information, visit dcwaf.org.
Beyond the beverages
To keep tasters going strong, bellies will be filled with the culinary creations of Scott Plumley (Wine World), Kevin Korman (Roselie Dining & Seafood Bar), Stephen Bucalo (The HUB 30A), Yoshie Eddings (Harbor Docks), Ted Morrison (Barefoot’s Beachside Bar & Grill), Mona McGee (Mac Farms), and Publix.
Throughout the weekend, the Nashville Singer Songwriter Stage promises a talented lineup of names you may not have heard of, but whose work you definitely know.
“These guys are some of the most successful songwriters in Nashville, and have written tons of hits for big stars like Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Trace Adkins, Bob Segar, George Straight, Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, and Kenny Chesney,” Brady said.
Brady reminded guests that parking is at a premium, and recommended carpooling, taxis, or using onsite festival sponsor 654 Limo.
For more details, including tickets, visit sowalwine.com.
All photos courtesy of the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival.