Named “One of the South’s Standout Food and Beverage Festivals” by USA TODAY and one of the “5 Food and Wine Events Worth Traveling to This Year” by US News & World Report, the 2018 South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival will be held April 26 – 29 throughout the Town Center of Grand Boulevard at Sandestin in idyllic South Walton in Northwest Florida.

A dazzling roster of more than a dozen celebrity winemakers, brew masters, distillers, chefs and entertainers, will gather in Miramar Beach, Florida to wine, dine, educate and entertain guests as part of the four-day celebration of wine, building upon 33 years of long-lasting relationships forged with the industry’s top winemakers and distributors.

Highlights of the area’s premier signature wine event center on tasting more than 800 domestic and imported wines:The festival is an opportunity to taste the 228 medal winners from the festival’s International Wine Competition held in February.  There are Gold, Silver and Bronze winners in 76 categories and each winner is noted with a special collar and recognized in the Tasting Guide given to attendees. Be sure to taste the Chianti Classico from Tuscany – Fonterutoli 2011 vintage named Best of Show Red. Gruner Veltiner by Weingut Brundlmayer 2016 vintage was named Best of Show White. Champagne from France – Taittinger La Francaise Brut NV was named Best of Show Sparkling Wine. Font Greye Gordonne Rosé, a Provence Rosé 2016 vintage, was awarded Best of Show Rosé.

The star-studded celebrity roster includes winemakers, chefs, master distillers, craft beer brew masters and other special guests who will be available to meet and discuss their crafts with festival guests. They include: Anthony and Olive Hamilton Russell of Hamilton Russell Vineyards; David Adelshiem of Adelsheim Vineyard; Glenn C. Salva, Antica Napa Valley; Erik Saccomani, Marchesi Antinori Wines; Mathieu Pouchan of Salon Delamotte Champagnes; Scott Plumley, culinary director of the festival and Wine World restaurants; former Top Chefcontestant Chef Wesley True of The Gulf Restaurant; venerable sushi chef, Yoshie Eddings of Harbor Docks; Michael Landis, Institut du Fromage; Mona B. McGee, Mac Farms; Rob Samuels of Maker’s Mark and David Pickerell of WhistlePig Farms and Hillrock Distilleries, Michael Reed of American Barrels and more.

VIP Tasting is Now a 3-day Affair

For the most ardent wine lovers, a 3-day VIP Package has been created and it includes entry to all events, except Winemakers & Shakers. The VIP tour starts with an exclusive VIP Tasting of library and collectable wines on Friday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. It also includes entry to Friday Craft Beer & Spirits Jam, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday Grand Tastings, Saturday Early Express Entry with Rosé All Day Preview at 12:30 p.m., VIP Lounge with air conditioning and restrooms in the Foster Gallery, VIP Swag bag with festival gift, VIP valet parking all weekend and priority reserved seating at Tasting Seminars up to 10 minutes before the seminars begin.

Craft Beer & Spirits Jam

On Friday night some of the hottest breweries and happening distilleries from across the country will be mixing, mingling and pouring more than 150 different kinds of specialty craft beers and spirits samples. Beers will be poured by Abita Brewing Company, Sweetwater Brewing Company, New Belgian, Idyll Hounds, Grayton Beer Company, Destin Brewery, and Nivol Brewing Company, among many others. Along EATS Street, small plates will be prepared by local favorites, including Roux 30A, Cantina Laredo Modern Mexican Food, Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House, Cabana Café, Café Rico, Cuveé Kitchen & Wine Bar, Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer, Jackacuda’s Seafood & Sushi, The Bistro at the Courtyard Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard and The Craft Bar.

Rosé All Day Anyone?

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 Hendrick’s 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. A photo booth and Rosé swag from ResortQuest and McCaskill & Company give guests every opportunity to enjoy their pink experience.

Culinary Delights on the Menu

Foodies will delight in the delicious dishes prepared by both local and celebrity chefs specially designed to pair with the impressive roster of imported and domestic wines being poured. In the Savor South Walton Culinary Village, Festival Culinary Director Scott Plumley, has artfully created a spread that 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.

Additional festival food includes award-winning cheeses, freshly made sushi, fresh Gulf tuna dip, beets with whipped blue cheese, onions, cucumber, thyme, lemon vegetable broth. Gourmet olive oils and fresh greens harvested from the organic gardens of Mac Farms in Santa Rosa Beach will be served up in the Nosh Pavilions. The Publix Super Market Pavilion will have a variety of freshly prepared food for attendees to sample.

Local Restaurant Favorites

For Friday’s VIP Tasting, delectable small plates will be prepared by signature restaurants from Grand Boulevard, including Emeril’s Coastal Italian, Cantina Laredo Modern Mexican Food, Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant, P. F. Chang’s China Bistro, Everkrisp, Another Broken Egg Cafe, Kilwin’s Chocolates & Ice Cream, The Wine Bar and Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria will serve their most popular dishes.

Wine & Food Tastings & Seminars

On Saturday and Sunday head to the Savor South Walton Culinary Village to take in 45-minute celebrity tasting seminars, starting at 1:30 p.m. both days. Seating is first come, first serve for these popular presentations.

Live Music Showcase

During the Grand Wine Tastings, the top songwriters from Nashville will perform their hit songs as part of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association’s (FRLA) “Nashville Songwriters Florida Sunshine Tour.” This entertainment is sponsored by FRLA and VISIT FLORIDA, in conjunction with BMI Nashville.

Wine Retail Tent

Whether your tasting tour has led you to an old flame or a new love, you can purchase your wine discovery in the Wine Retail Tent located next to Culinary Village. It is open Friday, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. For each ticket purchased, attendees receive a $5 rebate toward their wine purchase.

Ticket Prices & Event Times

Winemakers & Shakers takes place Thursday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Wine World Destin and tickets are $40. Tickets are $325 for the 3-day VIP ticket that include entry to all events (except Winemakers & Shakers) and includes an exclusive VIP Tasting of collectable and library wines on Friday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Craft Beer & Spirits Jam kicks off the festival Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $45. The Grand Tastings are on Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $110 and ticket price includes Rosé All Day, Spirits Row, wine and food tastings, tasting seminars and live entertainment. The event is rain or shine; sorry, children and pets are not allowed in Culinary Village.

To purchase tickets and view the full festival schedule visit www.SoWalWine.com.

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