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SoWal Wine & Food Update: We Never Promised You a Rosé Garden, But…

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America’s most renowned wine and food festivals have four main ingredients—celebrity winemakers, top culinary talent, thought-provoking tasting seminars, and elements that highlight and celebrate current trends. The South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival, happening April 26-29, combines these elements to create the ultimate wine weekend in Northwest Florida.


Held in Grand Boulevard at Sandestin’s Town Center, the 2018 South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival features a dazzling roster of celebrity winemakers, distillers, chefs, brew masters and entertainers while introducing grand new features, including the Rosé All Day Garden, provocative seminars with industry leaders and culinary masters, aiming to please every palate.


“We’ve watched Rosés grow and grow in popularity, and wanted to replace Champagne Lane with something new,” says Chan Cox, founder of the festival. “Inspired by New York City Rosé festivals, including La Nuit en Rosé and Pinknic, we believe the Rosé All Day Garden will beautifully complement our April weather.”


Presented by ResortQuest, the Rosé All Day Garden will feature Rosés from around the globe, including Italy, Spain, France, and South America and from North America, California and Oregon. The entire Grand Park will be transformed into all things Rosé. From pink décor to machines whipping out Frosé, a popular frozen drink made with Hendrix Gin and Marques De Caceres Rioja Rosé, the Garden will be blooming pink.


Rosé vodka, Rosé champagne, Rosé sparkling wines and Rosé wine from domestic and international vineyards will be among the hundred different tasting options. Attendees are invited to embrace the theme by donning their favorite pink, rose or blush colored attire. A photo booth and Rosé swag from ResortQuest will give guests every opportunity to see and drink pink.


“Europeans have been drinking Rosés forever. However, in the last four or five years, Americans began discovering European Rosés, which are light in color with lots of flavor yet dry,” Mr. Cox says. “Dry rosés are so versatile. They go with anything, and they are pleasant for warm summer enjoyment.”


Educational tasting seminars are another critical element of a world-class wine festival, and the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival will once again feature highly-sought after winemakers and master distillers from around the world sharing their knowledge and love of producing fine wines and spirits.


On Saturday, April 28, Anthony and Olive Hamilton Russell of Hamilton Russell Vineyards, as well as Southern Right and Ashbourne wineries, will lead the first seminar beginning at 1:30 p.m.


Honoring one of the master distillers featured at the Craft Beer & Spirits Jam on Friday, April 27, Maker’s Mark Master Distiller Rob Samuels will lead an educational tasting seminar on Saturday, April 28, from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m.


Among the master distillers at the 2018 Craft Beer & Spirits Jam and featured within Spirits Row at the Grand Tasting will be Master Distiller Dave Pickerell of WhistlePig.


On Sunday, April 29, from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m., Mathieu Pouchan of Salon Delamotte will lead a tasting seminar on the timeless classic, Champagne.


Oregon wine pioneer David Adelsheim’s Sunday tasting seminar will focus on the Pinot Noirs that put Oregon wines on the map. His seminar runs from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m.


Finally, a grand wine festival deserves an exceptional culinary program, and the Savor South Walton Culinary Village is set to deliver delicacies that pair beautifully with the wines. Led by the Culinary Director of Wine World’s The Wine Bar and The Craft Bar, Scott Plumley, the creative spread infuses local produce along with local meats from Heureux Beef, just north of DeFuniak Springs, and Coastal Blue Farms in Freeport.


With distinct flavor profiles to blend acidity with bases and balance the wines, the menu includes Alabama goat cheese fritters with San Marzano Tomato Sauce; avocado sourdough paired with marinated baby tomatoes and Aleppo pepper; Heureux Beef slider topped with aged gouda, tomato-bacon marmalade, and Coastal Blue Farms Micro Arugula; and Low Country Shrimp and Grits paired with Conecuh Sausage, Shellfish Nage and Collard Greens.


Award-winning cheeses will also be on the menu. Presented by Gourmet Foods International, world-renowned cheese expert and educator Michael Landis will present a sampling of the American Cheese Society’s medal-winning cheeses.


The four-day celebration of wine also includes Craft Beer & Spirits Jam, Spirits Row, Nosh Pavilions, live entertainment and more than 800 wines poured by knowledgeable wine industry insiders.


Tickets are now on sale. Event details and tickets are available at

– Stacey Brady
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