Soak Up The Sun At The Sandestin Wine Festival


In its 27th year, the Sandestin Wine Festival promises to deliver great food, wine and fun for those venturing to Sandestin’s Village of Baytowne Wharf on the Florida Gulf Coast from April 18 through 21. Events range from paired dinners to a Paula Deen cooking demonstration to, of course, plenty of wine tastings.

Kicking off the four-day festival are dinners throughout the town, including a five-course meal hosted by Alexander Valley Vineyards onboard SunQuest Cruises’ Solaris yacht. Expect dishes like surf and turf tartar, shrimp a la nage and beef tenderloin tips bourguignon paired with various labels. Or join in a wine tasting dinner at Graffiti & The Funky Blues Shack with guest speaker Michael H. McIntosh leading guests through courses and pairings such as pancetta-crusted pork tenderloin served with a 2010 Monterey pinot noir. If you’re looking for another chance to sample different dishes and bottles on opening night, head to Poppy’s Seafood Factory for a gourmet pairing event with six stations of selections such as salmon cakes served with chardonnay and braised lamb loin with a cabernet sauvignon.

The main event commences with the Grand Wine Tasting on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m at the Village. Expect wines from the United States and around the world as well as eats (including local Gulf seafood) to sample with the vino. Cooking demonstrations will feature nationally known dietician Diane Henderiks, who will offer pairing suggestions for her healthy and easy-to-make meals on Friday evening, and celebrity chef Paula Deen, who will make and pair one of her favorite dishes on Saturday.

Find a bottle from one of the events that you must take home? No worries. The festival’s retail tent will be set up both Friday and Saturday with a special festival discount for anything you’ve just got to have.

In addition to the main event, treat yourself to the VIP Connoisseur Experience on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., which includes a celebrity reception, special Riedel wine glass gift and tasting menu for lunch with watermelon gazpacho, beef tenderloin Wellington bites and more alongside rare and special varietals from wineries such as Illuminati, Jada and Clark-Claudon Vineyards. Included in the $150 price is a ticket to the Grand Wine Tasting as well as express entry.

End your Sandestin Wine Festival experience with a Sunday brunch of organic eggs, French toast or a breakfast burrito at the Baytowne Marina. Enjoy the bay breeze and views with live music, a create-your-own Bloody Mary bar and plenty of champagne.

Photos courtesy of Allison Yiifor Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, Paula Deen Enterprises

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