Many of our Ocean Reef guests time their beach vacation around extraordinary events that occur annually in South Walton and along Scenic Highway 30A. These special occasions offer plenty of opportunities to “eat, drink and be merry” as well as a chance to celebrate cultural arts that are unique to this part of Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The Sandestin Wine Festival attracts many travelers who want to absorb fine vintages from around the world. This year, the 27th Annual Sandestin Wine Festival at the Village of Baytowne Wharf kicks off on Thursday, April 18th and runs thru Sunday, April 21st. Known as “the Kentucky Derby of wine festivals” this South Walton event receives accolades of praise from media across the country. Almost 800 bottles of both domestic and international wines will be featured for the wine tasting from over eighty vineyards across the globe. Wine aficionados enjoy meeting wine makers in person, obtaining extensive information about various vineyards and acquiring rare bottled selections at a discount price. Novices have fun as well, since demonstrations help them learn about wine tasting and compare a variety of vintage. It's no wonder that Destin Magazine has named the Sandestin Wine Festival as “The Best Annual Event” along the Emerald Coast as it has become increasingly popular every year since its inception back in 1986. Festivities begin Thursday night at Marlin Grill and Bistro Bijoux. Special dinners will be served with choice wines carefully selected to bring out the true flavor of each meal.
The main wine tasting event occurs on Friday, April 19th from 5 to 8 pm and then again on Saturday, April 20th from 1 to 5 pm. Coastal Living magazine will be hosting a Culinary Pavilion on the Village Events Stage with thirty minute cooking demonstrations by area celebrity chefs. Vineyard owners, food writers and restaurateurs from across the Southeastern US will judge wines and award Gold, silver and bronze medals.
Paula Deen, known the as “Queen of Southern Cuisine” will be this year's special celebrity guest. This vivacious Southern lady is nationally known for her televised cooking shows, her popular magazine and as the bestselling author of over ten million cook books. She will host a special Southern Lunch at the Marlin Grill on Saturday between 11:00am and 1:00pm. Limited tickets are available for her wonderful lunch which will include some of her favorite dishes paired of course with the appropriate wine. Later in the day Paula will be on the Events Plaza Stage at 2:15 and 3:45pm giving thirty minute cooking demonstrations of her famous Southern cooking.
The Sandestin Wine Festival concludes on Sunday, April 21st at the Marina Cafe overlooking Choctawhatchee Bay. A Champagne Brunch is planned featuring free flowing champagne, a wide variety of delicious culinary offerings and a “Create your Own” Bloody Mary Bar with live musical entertainment.
Another special event which has become a South Walton phenomenon is called Digital Graffiti which is a dazzling light show at Alys Beach just off Scenic Highway 30A. This area attraction is a combo of Disney and “Alice in Wonderland” however in this case the wonderland is an ethereal display of colored lights that emblazon the alabaster white walls of the Alys beach community. Six years ago this brand new techno art form was introduced here and USA Today described it as a place where painters are welcomed “with open arms and white walls, but with projectors and lap tops rather than spray cans.” It has increasingly garnered fame both locally, nationally and now internationally. Film footage of last year’s visual performance was displayed on a giant screen on Time Square in New York and CNN sent a crew to film the event for their “Edge of Discovery” series. Now, hundreds of artists from around the world enter to compete by creating awesome animated light shows and videos on their computers which are then projected in vivid ever changing colors on the white adobe wall “screens.” The visual effect almost defies description. It combines ethereal Christmas lights, rainbow colors of Carnival in Rio and animated images. Besides the exteriors of the village buildings being lighted up, some with a moving disco ball effect, neon lighted palm trees are also aglow. Much of the event occurs around the Caliza community swimming with engaging musical entertainment and adult beverages provided. The 2013 event is scheduled for June 7th and 8th with ticket information available at digitalgraffiti.com.
Friday November 1st and Saturday November 2nd, 2013 will mark the Telluride Mountain Film Festival's 13th annual anniversary of being hosted locally by Watercolor on Scenic 30A. This is a great locale for this outdoor venue since the aptly named Watercolor residential community sits nestled beside Grayton Beach State Park and the shores of Western Lake. This special event is held under the sparkling stars like the original at the Marina Park Amphitheater. It is an extension of the Mountain Film event in Telluride, Colorado which is one of the longest running and most established film festivals in the nation. Their mission statement is “dedicated to educating and inspiring audiences about issues that matter, cultures worth exploring, environments worth preserving and conversations worth sustaining.”The touring version of the original draws tens of thousands of interested film goers at over seventy select locations around the globe and one of them is at Watercolor. The Telluride Mountain Film Festival is a high brow event that is internationally known for inspiring productions, various pertinent documentaries and a sterling roster of acclaimed films. Tickets and information about this upcoming event are available at www.mountainfilm.org.
On November 8th through November 10th the annual South Walton Taste of the Beach Wine Dine and Donate Festival kicks off for 2013. This event has raised millions for local charities that focus on children. It is sponsored by the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation. During this three day extravaganza philanthropists enjoy wine, music and gourmet foods prepared my area chef culinary celebrities. Sandestin will have an early preview kick off for this event sometime in August with the date to be announced. They will feature over 250 wines and all of them will be medal winners. The main event however starts Friday, November 8th from 6 to 8 pm at the Al Fresco Reserve Tasting at Ruskin Place in the picturesque, iconic village of Seaside on Scenic 30A. Ruskin Place is an enclave of interesting art galleries so culture abounds here in a landscaped, court yard like setting. Live chamber music will be played while participants taste a wide variety of special reserve and allocated wines. Sushi as well as delicious hors d'oeuvres will be prepared and provided by Chef Shirley who is a noted local restaurateur.
On Saturday, November 9th from 1 to 5 pm the Seeing Red Wine Festival also takes place in Seaside. This is the largest draw for the three day event being held around the grounds of the outdoor amphitheater and the village streets of Seaside itself. A big culinary pavilion is set up with a wide array of tasty picnic food served under the beautiful Florida azure autumn skies above. Dozens of red wines will also be served while live musical entertainment creates a festive atmosphere of fun for the frolicking South Walton guests.
On Sunday, November 10th from 2 till 5 pm the Taste of the Beach concludes at at the Sandestin Beach Golf and Tennis Resort. This grand finale includes a host of appetizers, more wine of course and even cocktails. Fabulous prizes are donated by area businesses, restaurants and retail shops that are available during a silent auction which is held throughout the afternoon. Participants know that besides all the wonderful wine, good food and fun to be had, one can feel good about the children's charities that always benefit from this three day event. These worthy charities include: Children in Crisis, Inc; Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast; Children's Volunteer Health Network; Emerald Coast Autism Center; Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center; Horizons; Fisher House of the Emerald Coast; Habitat for Humanity of Walton County; Youth Village; Pathways for Change and The Shelter House. Reservations and Information for tickets as well as the individual charity beneficiaries may be obtained at tatsteofthebeachfl.com.
Ocean Reef Resorts is pleased to let our visiting families and friends know about these wonderful festivals and events held along the beaches of South Walton so that you may plan your next vacation. We offer a wide selection of fine, distinctive, privately owned vacation rentals in South Walton from Miramar Beach all the way down Scenic 30A to Inlet Beach. These come in all sizes including everything from beachfront mansions to cozy cottages and from luxury high rise condominiums to nostalgic Old Florida styled bungalows. Be sure to check out all of your selections on our user friendly website to view photos as well availability dates and rental rates, which vary throughout the year. It is our pleasure to serve you today as you make plans for the future which will create wonderful memories of your time here in this special brand of paradise.