The countdown is on for the South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival as it is now is just under one week away. The highly anticipated food and beverage festival runs April 26-29 at Grand Boulevard in Miramar Beach.
"This year’s wines and spirits are the best we’ve ever offered, and our culinary menus beautifully reflect our region’s cuisine," said festival coordinator Stacey Brady. "Our friends in the food and beverage industries have really stepped up to provide an amazing experience and support our charity festival. Our attendees are in for a real treat with the addition of Rosé All Day Garden and perennial favorites – Culinary Village, Spirits Row and the wonderful Tasting Seminars that are all part of the ticket price."
As the South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival can be overwhelming for first-time guests, Brady offered this list of 20 tips to help you navigate the festival and get the most out of your time.
1. Plan ahead. With so many great wines and spirits to taste, plan for your "can’t miss" tents. You can see all the wines and their locations online at http://sowlawine.com.
2. Speaking of planning ahead, be sure to dress for the outdoors and that means hats, sunscreen and comfortable shoes. Dress up or dress down and keep it beach chic or resort casual.
3. Be sure to check out the tasting seminar schedule online as well. They are part of the Saturday and Sunday Grand Tasting ticket and seating is first-come, first-served. Attendees not only learn about the wines, spirits and pairings, they also get to be the only ones to taste them since they are not usually poured anywhere else at the festival.
4. Again, during the Grand Tasting, with three seminars per day and all seminars being first-come, first-served, be sure to arrive early if you plan to attend.
5. Chase your wine with water. Hydration is key.
6. Don’t forget your ID. If you don’t have an ID, festival organizers can’t put a wristband on you, and if you don’t have a wristband, you cannot enter any tasting tents.
7. Sponge. As in, eat before you taste and snack throughout the day on delicious festival food. At South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival, an empty stomach is not your friend.
8. Parking will be at a premium during the festival. The smartest thing to do is hire an Uber or taxi or have someone drop you off. Car sharing is encouraged.
9. If you were lucky enough to buy VIP tickets, be sure to enjoy the air-conditioned VIP Lounge at Foster Gallery, next to the main stage.
10. The Grand Tasting ticket includes the Rosé All Day Garden presented by ResortQuest both Saturday and Sunday. Be sure to pick up your Rosé swag from ResortQuest and at the McCaskill’s booth.
11. Stay cool and enjoy the misters at the three Silver Sands Premium Outlet Cool Down Zones.
12. Grand Boulevard’s Town Center is completely open during the festival for shoppers and diners. Streets are open to pedestrian traffic only over the weekend. However, festival wristbands must be worn to enter any tent or taste any food or drinks.
13. Service animals only in the Savor South Walton Culinary Village, thanks.
14. When you are ready to take a break, get a taste and a bite and mosey on over to hear the Nashville Songwriters tell their stories about writing songs for country music royalty. Performers are thanks to Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, Visit Florida and Great Florida Events.
15. Ladies, carry a cross-body purse and keep your hands free for holding your wine glass.
16. As you taste your way through the festival, be sure to highlight your favorite wines in your Tasting Guide or, better yet, take a picture of the bottle so you can buy it in the Retail Tent.
17. Be sure to ask and learn from the wonderful people pouring for you. They are knowledgeable wine and spirits industry professionals.
18. The festival will take place rain or shine.
19. Friday night and Saturday Grand Tasting tickets are selling briskly, so don’t wait until the last minute.
20. Feel good about your festival-going because you are giving back in a big way. One hundred percent of the net festival proceeds go to benefiting children in Northwest Florida through the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.
For more information, tickets and a full schedule of events for the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival, visit http://sowalwine.com.