Home > Blog > March 2017 > Premier Wines, Spirits and Bites Take Center Stage at South Walton Beaches Wine Food Festival

Premier Wines, Spirits and Bites Take Center Stage at South Walton Beaches Wine Food Festival

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At the intersection of premier wine and culinary genius, you’ll find the 2017 South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival. This ultimate wine week, April 27-30, is where wine, charity and fun converge and the result is an incredible line up of celebrity winemakers and wineries as well as some of the best chefs in the South showcasing their culinary talents. If you can only attend one wine festival this year—this is it! In fact, USA Today has named it “One of the South’s Stand Out Food & Beverage Festivals.”

South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival features a dazzling roster of dozens of celebrity winemakers, distillers, chefs, brew masters and entertainers who will wine, dine, educate and entertain you as part of the four-day celebration of wine. Throughout the Town Center of Grand Boulevard, attendees enjoy such attractions as Spirits Row, Champagne Lane Tastings, Savor South Walton Culinary Village, Nosh Pavilions, Tasting Seminars, Craft Beer & Spirits Jam, live entertainment by Nashville Songwriters and more than 800 wines poured by knowledgeable wine industry insiders.  Here’s a few of the 2017 festival highlights:

A-List Wine Industry Experts

Erik Saccomani, Brand Ambassador, Marchesi Antinori Wines - Throughout its long history, spanning 26 generations, the Antinori family has always personally managed business from their offices in Florence. Erik Saccomani was raised in the city of Verona, Italy. He graduated from hospitality school in 2000, and has since forged his passion for wine and food, and now oversees the Florida market for Marchesi Antinori.

Glenn C. Salva, Wine Estate Manager, Antica Napa Valley - The Antinori family’s winemaking history has been synonymous with the famed wine growing regions of Tuscany and Umbria since its inception more than six centuries ago when Giovanni di Piero Antinori entered the “Ante Fiorentina,” the Winemakers Guild of Florence, in 1385. The name Antica blends the sensibilities of “Antinori” and “California” and infuses a true expression of Napa Valley terroir. Glenn Salva, a Cornell educated viticulturist, brings 30 years of Napa Valley winegrowing to his work as Wine Estate Manager for Antica Napa Valley, where he has been responsible for all winegrowing activities since 2002.  

Thomas Houseman, Winemaker, Anne Amie - Anne Amie winemaker, Thomas Houseman, fell in love with Pinot Noir while enrolled in CSU Fresno’s enology program. From Fresno, he journeyed across the globe to California’s Anderson Valley, then to New Zealand, and finally to Oregon. Now at Anne Amie Vineyards, nestled in Oregon’s verdant Willamette Valley, Houseman blends the creativity of a former dancer, the eye of a scientist, and the zeal of a home brewer to create wines that feed his enthusiasm.

Franco Massolino, Winemaker, Massolino Winery - The history of the Massolino family and their Italian wine became entwined with the history of Serralunga d’Alba in 1896, when Giovanni founded the estate. In the 1990s oenologist Franco Massolino officially joined the family estate (along with his brother Roberto). Their work condenses the experience of an entire family and the ambition of a new generation, determined to make an important contribution to the innovation of oenological and agronomical techniques and to the image of the estate in Italy and abroad.

Andrew Holloway, Winemaker, Rombauer Winery - When founders Koerner and Joan Rombauer moved their two children, two horses and five dogs to Napa Valley in 1972, they arrived armed with an appreciation for the intimate relationship between food and wine. Today, the St. Helena, California winery remains owned and operated by first-, second- and third-generation members of the family. Andrew Holloway joined Rombauer as a full-time cellar worker in 2012, and is now Assistant Winemaker. HIs passion for food, wine and science is a combination that serves him well in his winemaking role.

Laurent Gruet, Winemaker, Gruet Winery - The Gruet family immigrated from Champagne, France, to New Mexico in 1984 to pursue their patriarch’s dream of making sparkling wines. Laurent, and his sister, Nathalie, two (of four) siblings would take the lead of what soon became the American endeavor, Gruet Winery. In 2011 Wine Spectator named his Gruet NV Blanc de Noirs a Top 100 wine of the world, a crowning jewel of acclaim for any winemaker and nearly unprecedented for a sparkling wine under $20.

Don Hartford, Owner, Hartford Family Wines & CEO, Jackson Family Wines – Hartford Family Wines produces 30 different wines from 15 different vineyards, and Don and Jenny Hartford stay close to the terroir by leading the farming of the winery’s vineyards, including a small old vine Zinfandel vineyard behind their home. The Hartford Family Winery, located in the heart of the famed Russian River Valley, is just one piece of their impressive wine legacy. Don’s wife, Jenny Jackson Hartford, is the oldest daughter of Jess S. Jackson and a co-proprietor and CEO of her family’s global wine collection company, Jackson Family Wines.

Michael Moore, South Eastern Regional Sales Manager, Signorello Estate - With vineyards first planted in the mid-1970s and wine production beginning in 1985, Signorello Estate today occupies 100 acres along the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley where it focuses on producing 7,000 cases of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as an array of small batch, single vineyard wines. Michael Moore is Signorello’s South Eastern Regional Sales Manager, and manages the winery’s relationships in the Southeast.

Celebrity Spirits Makers.

Spirits play a significant role in the festival with superstar master distillers participating on the festival’s “Spirits Row” and at Friday night’s Craft Beer & Spirits Jam, April 28, to pour and discuss their brands and methodology. Among them are:

Tommy Brunett, Founder/Owner, Iron Smoke Whiskey - Rocker-turned-whiskey-maker Tommy Brunett founded Iron Smoke Whiskey with his partner Steve Brown in 2011. A singer, songwriter and showman, Brunett and his band Tommy Brunett Band, have opened for national acts such as ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, Cracker, Marshall Tucker Band and Kellie Pickler. As a guitarist with the British rock band Modern English (“I Melt with You”) in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, he toured the world.   Brunett will be pouring Iron Smoke as well as taking the stage with his band at Friday night’s Craft Beer & Spirits Jam.

James C. “Jimmy” Russell, Master Distiller, Wild Turkey Distillery - James C. “Jimmy” Russell (Yes, THE Jimmy Russell!) has been making whiskey at the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, for 60 years, and today, is the longest-tenured, active spirits Master Distiller in the world! Russell is a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame and was granted a Lifetime Honorary Membership to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association’s Board of Directors. Russell has been responsible for launching many new Wild Turkey brands and expressions, such as Tradition, Tribute, 17-year-old Wild Turkey for Japan, Rare Breed, American Spirit, Kentucky Spirit and Russell’s Reserve, which he co-created with his son and distilling partner Eddie Russell.

Wes Henderson, Master Distiller, Angel’s Envy - Wes was inspired by legendary Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson, his father, who spent his life crafting fine spirits, and claimed Angel’s Envy to be his masterpiece. The five percent of spirit lost each year during barrel aging is called the “Angel’s Share.” After tasting their finished whiskey for the first time, Lincoln Henderson joked that he’d finally gotten a better deal than the angels. Today, Wes Henderson honors his father’s legacy serving as the Chief Innovations Officer. Teir port-finished whiskey bourbon has become the “comfort food” of the spirits world

Carlton Grooms, General Manager, Papa’s Pilar Rum - Even before it opened, Papa’s Pilar Rum tapped Carlton Grooms as general manager of its Key West Distillery and Experience Center. As a former Naval Officer, entrepreneur, chief financial officer, world traveler, author and rum enthusiast, Grooms has an impressive resume. A Key West resident since 2011, Grooms co-founded the International Rum Counciland co-author the book, “Rum & Contemporary Cuisine.”

Harlen Wheatley, Master Distiller, The Sazerac Company/Buffalo Trace Distillery- Harlen Wheatley was born not far from the ancient buffalo paths that mark the historic and storied home of Buffalo Trace Distillery in the bluegrass region of Kentucky. His formal education in chemistry and chemical engineering brought him to Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1995, but it’s the on-the-job experience in every aspect of production from raw materials to barrel aging that led him to become Buffalo Trace’s resident Master Distiller in 2005, an honor bestowed to only six people since the Civil War. Wheatley’s deep experience has made him a four-time James Beard Award nominee in the Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional category.

Fred Parent, Brand Ambassador, Hendrick’s Gin - An elixir enthusiast by day and night, Fred Parent’s wealth of knowledge in unusual cocktails serves him well as brand ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin. Having worked as a bartender and beverage director all over New York City, his infatuation with mixology led him to create Mixed Neat, a company that curated unique mobile events focusing on ingredients, exquisite cocktails and a memorable one-of-a-kind experience.

Robert Ryan, East Coast Brand Ambassador, Tullamore D.E.W.- A graduate of Trinity College Dublin with a Bachelor’s degree in social studies, Ryan is passionate about the food and beverage industry and gained hands-on experience working in bars in his home town Athlone, Dublin. Ryan recently worked with a soft drinks firm in Dublin running promotional nights and training bar staff to make mixed drinks with the company’s brand labels.

Elevated & Expanded Culinary Options

Wine is best paired with fabulous food and thanks to an elevated culinary experience, foodies will delight in delicious bites thoughtfully prepared by local chefs and nationally known food artisans. There are several opportunities to tuck into the Festival’s culinary scene:

Friday night’s Craft Beer & Spirits Jam  will feature small plates prepared by local restaurants and eateries, including Roux 30A, Cantina Laredo Modern Mexican, Cabana Café, Another Broken Egg Café, Crepe La Rus, The Craft Bar and more.

Saturday VIP Tasting will feature delectable dishes prepared by signature restaurants from Grand Boulevard, including Cantina Laredo Modern Mexican Food, Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant & Bar, Mitchell’s Fish Market, P.F. Chang’s, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria and Everkrisp.

Saturday and Sunday Grand Tastings features small plates and bites throughout Savor South Walton Culinary Village as well as five delicious “Nosh Pavilions” peppered along the Boulevard, each showcasing a notable area celebrity chef. Menu items will include but not limited to Alabama Goat Cheese Fritters with San Marzano Tomato Sauce; Cavatelli with Pork Ragu, Tuscan Kale, Parmesan and Lemon Breadcrumbs; Spicy Lamb Meatballs with Italian Salsa Verde and Dirty Risotto “Jambalaya.” Garden fresh seasonal green salads harvested from the organic gardens of Mac Farms located in Santa Rosa Beach atop freshly baked baguettes drizzled with their house made gourmet olive oils and topped with shaved Parmesan cheese and fresh cracked black pepper. ANCO Fine Cheeses, one of the largest importers of specialty cheeses in the United States, returns with Marconi almonds, dried fruits, Italian Prosciutto and a variety of tasty aged artisan cheeses including Asiago D’Allevo Vechhio, Parmigiano Reggiano Extra and Provolone Piccante, all of which pair well with wine.

NOSH Pavilion Featured Chefs & Dishes:

Chef Kevin Korman, who recently opened Roselie Dining & Seafood Barin South Walton, will serve up a fresh twist on a Southern favorite with his Shrimp & Grit Fritter with Tomato & Pepper Jam. (Normally the grits are on the bottom and the shrimp is on top, but Korman has made almost a dip with grilled shrimp and finely chopped tomato sofrito inside a fritter made with Anson Mills grits and parmesan cheese and deep fried.)

Chef Stephen Bucalo of The Hubon 30A will be serving smoked chili-lime wings and pickled gulf shrimp ceviche from his Mexican restaurant, Mile Marker Fifteen.

Chef Ted Morrison and his team from Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa will serve up a refreshing palate reset with their house made Blood Orange sorbet from Barefoot’s Beachside Bar & Grill. 

Yoshie Eddings of Harbor Docks in Destin will present her artfully-inspired and award-winning sushi creations. Yoshie and her sushi have been with the festival since the beginning and attendees flock to her tent to watch the master in action and taste the delicious results.
The fifth Nosh Pavilion, presented by Publix Super Market, will be filled with beautiful and fresh sweet treats from their bakery.

Total Package

South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival will showcase more than 800 domestic and imported wines, 212 of which earned medals in 71 categories from a panel of 21 industry judges during a blind tasting in January. In addition to two days of tastings and seminars, wine lovers will be treated to live entertainment and special features such as the Champagne Lane tasting, featuring floating bubbles, tasty treats from Kilwin’s Chocolates, Fudge & Ice Cream and a selection of Champagnes and sparkling wines, including Winemaker Laurent Gruet’s sparkling wines from Gruet Winery.

The ultimate wine week also includes the Destin Charity Wine Auction, ranked #3 among the top 10 wine auctions in the country by Wine Spectator Magazine, on Saturday, April 29 under the big tent. Proceeds from the Auction and the Festival benefit Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, serving children in need in Northwest Florida through 14 local non-profit partners.

To learn more or purchase tickets, visit SoWalWine.com. (The Craft Beer & Spirits Jam kicks off the festival Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., $35 in advance; the Grand Tastings are on Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., advance tickets $99 (the VIP Tasting is SOLD OUT). A two-day Grand Tasting Packaging is available for $175. Purchase tickets at SoWalWine.com)

Book A Wine Weekend Getaway

Presented by Visit South Walton and Wine Enthusiast Media, the festival offers the ideal backdrop for a beach getaway. Newman-Dailey is offering a SoWal Wine Weekend Special with 10% off stays of three nights or more. Some restrictions apply, view the offer on our Deals page. View our premier selection of South Walton vacation rentals, including rentals at Hidden Dunes Beach & Tennis Resort near the festival and 30A Condos at Sanctuary at Redfish online or call one of our friendly vacation specialists at 1-800-225-7652.

See you @ the beach for wine, spirits, food and lots of fun!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

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