South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival Showcases Local Restaurants, Food Artisans and International Celebrity Chefs in Culinary Village

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Wine, charity and fun converge during Northwest Florida Beaches Ultimate Wine Week

A variety of delectable foods will be served up in the Savor South Walton Culinary Village at South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival the last weekend in April.

We approach this event as a food and wine experience, so whether you prefer white or red wine, we will have a variety of foods — vegetarian, meats and seafoods — to try to have something everyone will enjoy,” Serafin says.

Foodies will delight in the delicious dishes prepared by both local and celebrity chefs specially designed to pair with the impressive roster of imported and domestic wines being poured in this year’s South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival.

April 23 through 26, wine and food lovers will sip, swirl … and nibble … their way through the Town Center of Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, located within the beach communities of idyllic South Walton in Northwest Florida.

Overseeing Savor South Walton Culinary Village is seasoned local chef Gary Serafin of Emerald Coast Catering. After more than 40 years in the food and beverage industry, Serafin still enjoys the art of well-catered events, and relishes his role of culinary director of South Walton’s largest wine fete.

“I don’t think there’s anything more satisfying,” Serafin says. “Aren’t the best times of our lives those that involve food and wine?”

Serafin is tasked with reviewing the wines and designing a menu of dishes that will complement them. “We approach this event as a food and wine experience, so whether you prefer white or red wine, we will have a variety of foods — vegetarian, meats and seafoods — to try to have something everyone will enjoy,” he says.

In addition to traditional food favorites, Serafin always present something new each year to keep the Festival menu “unexpected and exciting.” One such dish is a creamy Risotto featuring roast duck and mushrooms. To complement South of France wines being poured in Culinary Village, Tartiflette, a French potato, bacon and cheese dish will be served as well.

A classic feature this year will be a variety of artisan cheeses by ANCO Fine Cheeses, one of the largest importers of specialty cheeses in the United States. And back by popular demand are the artfully inspired and award-winning sushi creations of Yoshi Eddings of Harbor Docks in Destin as well as gourmet olive oils and gorgeous, garden fresh nibbles harvested from the organic gardens of Mac Farms located in Santa Rosa Beach. Rounding out the tasting menu is a sampling of delicate almonds, assorted charcuterie and other small bites.

Fifth generation wine pioneer Marc Perrin of Château de Beaucastel will make a special appearance in the Culinary Village. For more than a century Famille Perrin has trailblazed the wine industry to become the largest owner of vineyards in the best terroirs of the France’s Southern Rhône Valley. Francofile foodies will savor food pairings prepared by accomplished Chef Laurent Deconinck of L’Oustalet, a Mediterranean-inspired boutique hotel restaurant in the heart of a winegrowing village in Gigondas, France, also owned and operated by the Perrin family.

Foodies can also tuck into a series of tasting seminars also held within the Culinary Village. Perrin and Deconinck will team to present a food and wine seminar on Saturday at 1 p.m. The series continues with David Laird of Balvenie Distillery at 2 p.m. and Pierre De Agostini of ANCO Fine Cheeses speaking on how to select the perfect cheese to pair with wine at 3 p.m.

On Sunday, wine superstar Jean-Charles Boisset of Boisset Family Estates and La Famille Des Grands Vins speaks at 2 p.m. followed by Wes Henderson of Angel’s Envy at 3 p.m.

South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival will showcase more than 800 domestic and imported wines, 216 of which earned medals from a panel of 24 industry judges during a blind tasting in January. In addition to two days of tastings and seminars, wine lovers will be treated to live entertainment and special features such as Champagne Lane, featuring floating bubbles and dozens of Champagnes and sparkling wines.

One of the weekend’s highlights is the annual Destin Charity Wine Auction to be held on Saturday afternoon, which invites auction attendees to bid on luxury travel packages, collectable wines and other fine living lots. Proceeds from the auction and festival go to support more than a dozen children’s charities in Northwest Florida.

Presented with support from Visit South Walton and Wine Enthusiast magazine, the festival offers the ideal backdrop for a beach getaway. South Walton beaches are consistently named among the best beaches in the country. ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals is the Official Lodging Partner of the festival and many of their accommodations are beachfront, beachside or a short stroll to the beach. At this time, they are currently offering festival discounts that include discounted tickets. Go to Wyndham Vacation Rentals for details.

South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival is made possible by the generous support of the following Founding Partners: Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, Visit South Walton Tourist Development Council, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, Wine World of Northwest Florida and Grand Boulevard at Sandestin.

The Craft Beer & Spirits Jam kicks off the festival Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; the Grand Tastings are on Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $50 for Friday; $85 for Saturday and Sunday (tickets include Champagne Lane, wine and food tastings, seminars and live entertainment); and $165 for the VIP Tasting with entry to the Grand Tasting. The VIP Tasting is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Grand Tasting starting at 1p.m. To purchase tickets and view the full festival schedule visit http://www.sowalwine.com.

About South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival
This year’s annual South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival will be held April 23-26, 2015 throughout the Town Center of Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. The festival features a stunning showcase of the best wines the world has to offer. Celebrity wine producers and chefs present fine wine and food pairings from the world’s most famous appellations. The Savor South Walton Culinary Village offers a sumptuous array of foods to taste, wines to pair, as well as wine and food tasting seminars and live entertainment. The event is a major fundraiser for Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, which benefits children in need in Northwest Florida. For more information, including a list of attending winemakers and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.SoWalWine.com.

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Stacey Brady

Stacey Brady
@SoWalWINE
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