“To take wine into our mouths is to savor a droplet of the river of human history.” — Clifton Fadiman, American Writer and Critic


Wine is art, wine is science, wine is culture, wine is history — wine can be interesting and yes, fun too, especially at the new South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival!

There is a story behind nearly every wine — a story about a person, a place and a time. Sometimes there is more to wine than meets the eye, or palate for that matter. Here are just a few of the stories behind some of the many wines you may choose to sample at the Grand Boulevard venue:


Wine & World History

Schramsberg 2009 Blanc de Blancs, North Coast

Napa Valley’s Schramsberg has played a role in world history. The Blanc de Blancs was used for President Nixon’s 1972 “Toast to Peace” with China’s Premier Zhou Enlai.

Schramsberg’s sparkling wines have been served at official State functions by every U.S. Presidential administration since then.


A Tribute to Wounded EOD Warriors

EOD Cellars Basic Blaster Red 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

EOD Cellars Willie Pete 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Leon Tackitt, Lt. U.S. Navy (Ret.), owner and winemaker of Tackitt Family Vineyards, Paso Robles, Calif., once served as an instructor at the EOD School at Northwest Florida’s own Eglin Air Force Base. EOD Cellars wine is a specially bottled series created by Tackitt to support the Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation. All of the net proceeds go directly to the foundation.


Princess Love Story

Banfi Principessa Gavia 2011, Gavi

In the 6th century, Principessa Gavia fell deeply in love with a soldier. Her father, Clodimir, King of the Franks, forbade their marriage, so the lovers eloped to a remote village in northwestern Italy. Charmed by the local white wine, the newlyweds revealed their identity and were brought before the king. But when he realized their happiness, he forgave the couple. The King blessed their union and named both the village and its wine for his daughter. It is said today that their romance lives on in each glass of Principessa Gavia Gavi.


Legend of the “Black Chicken”

Robert Biale “Black Chicken” 2010 Zinfandel, Napa Valley

From humble beginnings, along with the eggs and produce, a teenaged Aldo Biale began discreetly selling his homemade wine to a few wine-loving Napans. Because his rural home phone was a “party line” frequented by nosy eavesdroppers, enterprising Aldo used a code name whereby his customers could order wine without the risk of revealing his secret Zinfandel operation. Thus “Black Chicken” was born — the nickname for a jug of homemade wine from young Aldo’s barrels hidden in the barn.


“If it Grows Together, it Goes Together.” — Chan Cox

Marqués de Cacerés “Deusa Nai” 2011 Albariño, Rías Baixas

Albariño, grown almost exclusively well on Spain’s northwestern Atlantic coast, was literally crafted over centuries to pair with the local cuisine — seafood, especially shellfish (much like our own local cuisine).   Deusa Nai is a reference to a mythical Galician goddess representing fertility of the Earth — the soils for Albariño. 


Napa Valley Meets South Walton

Historic Charles Krug Winery – Peter Mondavi Family – Napa Valley

Charles Krug was Napa Valley’s first commercial winery, founded in 1861. Napa Valley, although high in quality and offering great diversity, it is one of the smallest wine regions in the world representing only 1/8th of Bordeaux’s plantings and only 4 percent of California’s grape harvest.  On the local scene, a fledgling vintner, named Peter Mondavi, Jr., and a young wine merchant, named Chan Cox, teamed-up to establish the first wine festival in Northwest Florida.  Twenty-seven years later, the tradition continues, and after regular return visits between then and now, they have teamed-up again in 2013 for the inaugural South Walton Beaches Food & Wine Festival.


Top New Zealand Wine

Peregrine Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand

New Zealand’s No. 1 wine as just judged at the prestigious 2010 Air New Zealand Awards – “Champion Wine of the Show”!  The Central Otago has emerged into one of the top Pinot Noir regions in the world and Greg Hay, the owner of Peregrine, was the first producer to plant vineyards. This remote and rugged, yet beautiful South Island location was the set for the outdoor scenes in the movie Lord of the Rings.


100 Point Wine

Bodegas Fernando Remeriz de Ganuza, La Rioja, Spain.

In June 2010, the Remeriz de Ganuza 2004 Gran Reserva Rioja was the first Spanish wine to be awarded a perfect 100 point rating by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (June, 2010).  A stunning achievement and the stellar ratings continue. Their wines will be featured throughout the festivities — VIP Tasting, Vibrant Rioja Reserva & Gran Reserva Dinner, Vibrant Rioja Seminar and Grand Tasting.


Debunking a Myth

Dopff & Irion 2008 Riesling, Alsace

Many consumers believe Riesling is always sweet. The truth is Riesling can vary widely in style — from bone dry to dessert sweet. Riesling from Alsace, in France’s far northeastern corner, is a prime example of where dry Riesling excels. Dry Riesling is not well understood or appreciated; however, it is one of the most refreshing, food-friendly and versatile white wines. At the Grand Tasting, attendees will be treated to a dry Alsatian Riesling — the Dopff & Irion 2008 Riesling, which not only won its category, it was judged “Best of Show White” in the inaugural wine competition.


Champagne is Not Just an Aperitif

Sure, Champagne is great for celebration or an as aperitif; however, in spite of its acidity and range of styles it is vastly under-utilized as a food wine. Champagne is successfully paired with dishes in two opposing directions — “like-for-like” and as a “foil.” Catch the Delamotte Champagne Seminar on Sunday, April 28th at 12:15 and see for yourself.


Extra – Insider’s Tip

Want to get an early start to the festivities on Saturday and Sunday?  Want to taste some of the festival’s top wines with top professionals?  Checkout the headline seminars from 12:15 to 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday – first come, first serve, limited to 50 attendees, included in the Grand Tasting admission ticket! Visit sowalwine.com for ticket and event information.