South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival

The South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival was this past weekend at Grand Boulevard outside of Sandestin. The festival is in its 2nd year and is founded by Chan Cox of Chan’s Wine World fame. Chan founded the Sandestin Wine Festival 28 years ago and it has grown year after year. I’ve attended the Sandestin Wine Fest numerous years and my wine glass collection is all the greater for it.

(photo from SoWalWine website)

The layout of the festival made great use of Grand Boulevard’s space with separate areas laid out to prevent a crowded feeling. Champagne Lane had its own champagne flutes available at the entrance along with a bubble machine providing the proper festive ambiance. There were also Godiva truffles at the champagne booths to bring out the flavors of the bubbly. The tasting tents for the typical white and red wines were spaced well enough apart that the afternoon breeze kept the crowds cool.

My sister’s favorite wine was Tin Roof Chardonnay represented by Mandie with O’Neill Vintners & Distributors. I chatted with a few of the reps throughout the festival and she was the nicest we found. Mandie also told us about living in Myrtle Beach, SC versus us living in Destin and Niceville. My sister watches a show centered in Myrtle Beach and they hit it off quite well. (Photo below of my sister Angie & Mandie)

In addition the the wines, this festival also featured an array of spirits that rivaled any that I’ve seen (in my limited knowledge of wine festivals).

20140428-212343.jpg This area was actually called Spirit Lane, but the majority of the spirits available to sample were whiskey or bourbon. I LOVED this portion of the festival. As much for the novelty of something more than just wine, this area really fed my adventurous side. As I went through the festival, I photographed the different beverages I enjoyed most. As you can see below, most of them were not wine.

In addition to the fine selections above, I also tried St~Germain for the first time. Wow. St~Germain is a liquor made from elder flowers handpicked during a few short weeks in spring and then bicycled(!) to a collection site in France. There are a limited number of bottles made each year and I bought one. It’s a very sweet and aromatic liquor that seems to completely capture the taste and smell of spring. I also nabbed the recipe book for it from the booth so that I can learn how to incorporate this new addition to cocktails the next time I entertain.

Now there were other parts of the festival, but I neglected to properly photograph them. There was a series of songwriters down from Nashville that performed all weekend. There was a tent filled with glorious food. (Paella, cheeses, sushi, salmon, almond ice cream, etc.)
Chans also set up a retail tent for wine accessories as well as all the wines, champagnes and spirits they featured at the festival.

I did not leave empty handed. And I can’t wait to go back next year.

What are your favorite festivals or local events?