Ranked among the South’s top food and beverage festivals by USA TODAY, South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival has long been recognized for its celebrity vintners and world-class wines. Now in its seventh year in Grand Boulevard (April 25 to 28), the festival’s Savor South Walton Culinary Village has become a top draw within the event and is where geographically-themed pairings of food and wine take place.
“This is my third year directing the festival’s culinary program,” said the Festival Culinary Director Chef Scott Plumley of Chan’s Wine World. “We want festival goers to have great time, and feel the cohesiveness between the Oregon wines and the food served along with it.”
This year’s theme celebrates Oregon wines, a wine region that is home to more than 700 wineries and 1,000 vineyards. Most famous for its Pinot Noir grapes grown in Willamette Valley, Oregon has eight distinct wine regions producing 72 grape varieties. Among the winemakers and wineries features are WillaKenzie Estate Winemaker, Erik Kramer, Jackson Family Wines’ Oregon General Manager, Eugenia Keegan and Mollie Battenhouse, National Director of Wine Education for Jackson Family Wines who is also an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. All three will also be featured in one of Sunday’s wine seminars, exploring the history of Oregon terroir and viticulture taking the audience on a tasting journey through the region.
“Oregon is thickly rooted in Alaskan and Pacific cuisine with salmon and shellfish from the sea and hearty produce from the earth such as mushroom, kale, and lettuces, which we’ll prepare with a Southern Gulf Coast flair,” shared Chef Plumley. “I am planning a menu that is more substantial and combines small bites that are quick to eat along with dishes that have more substance and leave people feeling satisfied.”
Presented by The Craft Bar and The Wine Bar, the Culinary Village will feature nine culinary stations. Light bites range from herb-crusted goat cheese fritters to Tillamook & Gruyere beignets with Bay Shrimp, roasted corn, sweet tomato chutney topped with petit basil, which are complemented by satisfying samples of seared salmon with wildflower honey, toasted hazelnuts, mushroom risotto, and local small batch stout braised beef short ribs with stone ground grits, among others. New this year, Chef Plumley is adding a sweet treat—dark chocolate pistachio and passion fruit truffles.
Also new this year, the Savor South Walton Culinary Village will include an exposition kitchen where festival goers will enjoy watching Chef Plumley and his team prepare culinary offering fresh and in-person.
“I hope that having a busy expo kitchen right there provides both entertainment and something new to experience,” said Chef Plumley. “While there is definitely a strong focus on wine, the South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival is a gathering of people who love wine and food. There are craft beers, spirits, food seminars, wine seminars and more. There is a lot more to do than simply walk and taste wine.”
Throughout the festival Nosh Pavilions offer an array of food tastings that pair beautifully with the wines. The venerable Yoshie Eddings of Harbor Docks will be serving her wildly popular fresh sushi, while Chef Ryan Cogan of Barefoot’s Bar & Grill at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa and Mona B. McGee of Mac Farms in South Walton will surprise attendees with creative bites and fresh produce.
One of the aspects that makes South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival special is the focus on education. The 2019 event will welcome back world-renowned cheese expert and educator Michael Landis to present tasting seminars on Saturday and Sunday. Landis will present a sampling of the American Cheese Society’s Medal-winning cheeses and other bites, paired perfectly with selected wines including Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County CA 2017 WillaKenzie Chardonnay, Willamette Valley 2017 Ex Post Facto Syrah, Santa Barbara County 2016 and Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley 2014 poured to compliment the cheeses and meats. As the Director of Education for the Institut du Fromage, Landis has been teaching food and beverage pairings for more than 20 years. He is an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional and authorized Educator, Court of Master Sommelier, certified Cicerone beer server and was inducted into the International Guilde des Fromages in 2011.
Tickets are now on sale. Event details and tickets are available at https://sowalwine.com/tickets/.. To purchase tickets, visit
The four-day celebration of wine also includes the Craft Beer & Spirits Jam, Rosé All Day Garden, Spirits Row, Nosh Pavilions, live entertainment and more than 800 wines presented by knowledgeable wine industry insiders. The ultimate wine weekend is complemented by the Destin Charity Wine Auction and proceeds from the auction and the festival benefit children in need in Northwest Florida.
Presented by Wine Enthusiast Media, Grand Boulevard at Sandestin and Visit South Walton, the festival offers the ideal backdrop for a beach getaway. The Festival is made possible by the generous support of the following Founding Partners: Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, Visit South Walton Tourist Development Council, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, Wine World of Northwest Florida and Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals is the official lodging partner of the festival.