Sandestin Wine Festival
Celebrating 35 years of fun, food, and wine
The sun was shining, corks were popping, and wine glasses were filled as people from all over the country enjoyed the 35th annual Sandestin Wine Festival. Dozens of tents were set up for wine vendors across the Village of Baytowne Wharf along with culinary, recreational, and artist vendors. The excitement in the air could be felt by everyone as the lines moved and the festivities began.
The Matt McCarty Quintet, a local jazz band from Niceville, provided lively musical entertainment while festival attendees mingled and sipped their choice of drink, which included more than 400 varieties of wines, spirits, and craft beers. There was even a keg on wheels called the Kombi Keg — a vintage VW van modified into an interactive mobile bar.
Representatives from more than 70 domestic and international wineries, distilleries, breweries, and countless volunteers, poured glasses and kept the refills coming as the crowds ventured from one table to another. First-time attendee James Mercer from Atlanta, Georgia, was greatly impressed by the selections offered.
“The entire gamut of wines seems to be available, and the quality of all I’ve sampled so far is impeccable,” said Tom Mercer from Atlanta as he took another sip of wine.
VIP Attendees were privileged to special accommodations that included bypassing lines and entrance to the VIP lounge located upstairs at the Amenities Terrace Deck above the public parking garage at Baytowne Wharf. Here, they enjoyed exclusive samples of wine and hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Jay Ammons of Slick Lips Seafood and Sunset Bay Café.
Among the many vendors was someone new to the event, Mom Water. Co-founders Bryce and Jill Morrison were pleased with the turnout. “This was our first year at the event, and the response and our experience were amazing. Everyone was so excited for the product. We’ve already booked our spot for next year,” Jill Morrison said.
In the middle of all the grand tasting was a colorful art vendor. Donna Burgess, a local award-winning artist known for capturing the excitement of color and light in her work, is responsible for designing the event poster, which has become an annual collector’s item for festival attendees.
“I have created the official poster for the Sandestin Wine Festival for 35 years now. I produce a limited number of prints for sale,” she said.
On the Grand Lawn across from the stage area, several people chose spots to relax and enjoy their wine while others played frisbee with their kids or simply enjoyed the beautiful day. In front of the stage, children and adults danced to the music. The family-friendly event was a great time for all.
Proceeds raised from the Sandestin Wine Festival will benefit Fisher House of the Emerald Coast and Sandestin Foundation for Kids. If you missed this year’s festival, don’t fret; the Sandestin Wine Festival will return April 13-16, 2023.