Sandestin Wine Festival continues tradition as area's top wine event

Special to The Log
Event draws wine lovers and celebrity guests to The Village of Baytowne Wharf.

“Uncork some fun in the sun” at this year’s Sandestin Wine Festival, which is reporting record ticket sales for its 2013 spring event.

Slated for this April 18-21, the Sandestin Wine Festival is known as the “Kentucky Derby of Wine Festivals.” It will be a picture perfect event complete with white tents, the tasting of hundreds of wines, Gulf seafood and other culinary treats, and live music.

Now in its 27th year, the event is the most established and continuously running wine festival on the Coast.

In addition to plenty of fine wines, the festival will also bring some star power to Sandestin. Food Network personality, Paula Deen, will be a featured chef on the Coastal Living

Cooking Stage on Saturday, April 20, and will also be a special guest at the festival’s VIP Connoisseur event.

"Paula's southern charm, engaging personality and cooking expertise is a perfect match for our guests and the Sandestin Wine Festival,” said Lanier Motes, special events manager at the Village of Baytowne Wharf.

From “Paula’s Home Cooking” to “Top Chef,” Deen has been a popular personality on the Food Network for more than a decade. She has sold nearly 10 million books focused on her life of Southern cooking, and has her own magazine, “Cooking with Paula Deen.”

Deen will be joined by healthy eating expert Diane Henderiks, a personal chef and registered dietitian on a mission to teach America how to cook and eat well. Diane will entertain guests Friday, April 19, on the Coastal Living Magazine Stage during the Grand Wine Tasting event.

Diane is a regular contributor for Good Morning America, founder of "Dish with Diane" and has appeared as an expert guest on many of the country’s leading media including CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, BetterTV and on Martha Stewart Radio.

Beyond the celebrities, organizers recently announced the addition of two major wine industry players at the upcoming event.

ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, the largest fine wine and spirits retailer in Florida with more than 145 stores, will pour special wine selections. This involvement complements ABC’s Panhandle expansion, and their focus on education and providing fine customer service. Just recently, the 77-year-old company announced Destin and Panama City will be ABC’s first expansion west of Tallahassee. Construction is expected to start late summer/early fall, with the stores opening in early 2014 The Sandestin Wine Festival is also pleased to announce that entwine™ Wines, will be the featured wine for the Coastal Living Magazine Cooking Stage. Food Network partnered with Wente Vineyards, America’s oldest continuously operated family-owned winery, to create entwine. Food Network’s culinary team works directly with fifth generation wine maker Karl Wente to make these signature wines delicious — on their own and paired with delicious dishes.

Proceeds will be donated to The Fisher House, a worthwhile organization that provides free or low cost lodging to veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers.

Additional details and ticketing information is available at


Here is a guide and rundown of events for the upcoming Sandestin Wine Festival.

Thursday, April 18 Wine Dinners at Sandestin’s Village of Baytowne Wharf. Participants include Graffiti and the Solaris Dinner Cruise

Friday, April 19 Grand Wine Tasting, 5 to 8 p.m.  The pouring of hundreds of domestic and international wines and spirits makes for a grand event, and offers a rare opportunity to learn about the finest appellations from major producing countries in all varieties, styles and price ranges.  Sample delicious fare and Gulf seafood paired with wines.   Location:  The Village of Baytowne Wharf

Cooking Demonstrations at the Coastal Living Stage, 6 and 7 p.m. Be entertained by culinary experts including Diane Henderiks. Diane will share her tips and tricks for creating delicious and healthy dishes that are simple to prepare. Suggestions for wine pairings included. Location: The Grand Lawn Price:  Free with paid Wine Festival entry and wristband.

Retail Tent, 2 to 9 p.m.  Purchase your favorite wine or spirits at a special Wine Festival discount.  Location: Near the Baytowne Marina

Saturday, April 20 VIP Connoisseur Experience Wine aficionados will enjoy a VIP tasting of rare and specialty wines. This VIP experience includes a celebrity reception from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; a tasting menu lunch; a specialty Reidel wine glass; and express entry into the Grand Wine Tasting. Location:  SunQuest Cruises' Solaris Yacht at Baytowne Marina

Grand Wine Tasting, 1-5 p.m. Day Two of the main event features more fine wine and fabulous food. Location: The Village of Baytowne Wharf

Coastal Living Cooking Stage Presents Paula Deen, 2:15 and 3:45 p.m.  Be entertained by Paula Deen and see one of her favorite recipes paired with wine.   Location: The Grand Lawn Price:  Free with paid Wine Festival entry and wristband. 

Retail Tent, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Purchase your favorite wine or spirits at a special Wine Festival discount.  Location: Near the Baytowne Marina

Sunday, April 21 Sunday Brunch by the Bay 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Enjoy scenic views of the Bay, music and the charming marina while treating yourself to a delicious Sunday Brunch featuring wonderful champagnes and even a “Create Your Own” Bloody Mary Bar.  Location: Baytowne Marina