Home > Blog > May 2017 > Emerald Coast's Obsession with Wine - Wine on the Menu

Emerald Coast's Obsession with Wine - Wine on the Menu


Today's blog is the second in a three part series that includes excerpts from Newman-Dailey Resort Properties Where you'd rather Be Magazine. Part I: The History- Wine Festivals a Game Changer featured the early days of wine consumption in Destin and the impact wine festivals have had on our coastal wine culture. Today, we uncover how the movement has translated at our local restaurants, which now boast impressive wine menus, some of which are recognized with an Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator. Wine tastings have become a way of life and it is easy to find a South Walton or Destin wine tasting, pairing or wine dinner almost any night of the week. 

Part II - Wine on the Menu
Not only did wine make it onto the menu, but area restaurants began developing wine lists that are a point of differentiation and pride.
“Our customers began requesting that we add certain labels to our list. They want single vineyard wines,” says Chef Tim Creehan of Cuvee 30A “We would not be here without the community maturing and developing an appetite for fine and great wines.”

The number of wine tastings and wine dinners began growing as well. Local restaurants along the coast, including Chan’s Wine World, are finding their niche and hosting specialized wine tastings for sophisticated palates.

Todd Reber and his business partner Chef John Jacob opened Vin’tij Wine Boutique in Miramar Beach across from Silver Sands in 1998. Reber describes the wine culture at the time as “grocery store wines.”

A handful of us worked at Bud & Alley’s in Seaside and entertained at home, but would go to shop for wines, and they were not available,” shared Vin’tij Co-Owner Todd Reber. “We founded Vin’tij as a place to wine, dine and enjoy, but also take home a bottle or a case.”
“The early years were tough. We had to survive sleepy winters and waiting for Highway 98 to grow up,” said Reber. “Eventually, savvy visitors and second homeowners realized we were serving elevated cuisine and not grocery store wine.”

Vin’tij found its niche with small batch and artesian wines paired with fresh, inventive cuisine. Much like the restaurant’s colorful walls and constantly changing local artwork, Vin’tij’s wine menu and cuisine is constantly changing too.  

“We now have two winemakers coming in here a week. They seek us out,” said Reber. “This was influencing our wine dinners and we were hosting many from California. This year, we’re reinstituting a focus on winemakers by region to help educate ourselves and our staff. We started in Burgundy—pouring, talking, teaching. Next, we’re moving into Spain.”

Other local businesses have also sprouted due to the region’s growing wine consumption. Demetria and Richard McNeese opened McNeese Distributing to help distribute small batch wines locally.

The wines we carry have small production and are too small for big distributors,” said Demetria McNeese, co-owner of McNeese Distributing. “In three years, we’ve represented more than 150 labels. It is hard work but fun.”

Next week, we'll feature Part III in the series: Local Labels.

In the meantime, we invite you plan your next vacation to the Emerald Coast. View our premier South Walton and Destin vacation rentals online or call one of our friendly vacation specialists at 1-800-225-7652.

See you @ the beach!


Thursday, May 4, 2017

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