Tasting on the Emerald Coast

A Look At the 2009 Sandestine Wine Festival

sandestinwineIf you are a wine festival fan, the Sandestin Wine Festival is a must, but bring your appetite, bathing suit, fishing pole and golf clubs along with you. The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort offers an endless list of things to do when you’re not trying the world class wines. Located in the Panhandle of Florida, between Pensacola and Panama City, the region known as the Emerald Coast is famous for its sugar-like sand beaches and blue water.

Sandestin Golf and Beach

  • Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is a 2,400 acre destination resort for all seasons.
  • They offer 1,600 rental accommodations including condominiums, single family homes, two to four bedroom villas and the 175 room Bayside Inn.
  • The Village of Baytowne Wharf, where the wine festival is held, is a 28-acre pedestrian village surrounding a lagoon that boasts more than two dozen restaurants, shops, boutiques and nightlife venues.
  • Sandestin offers a wide range of recreational activities including a fitness center, spa, beach activities, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, waverunners, sailing, stand up paddle boarding, dinner cruises, boat rentals, dinner cruises, state of the art tennis facility and 4 professional golf courses. Whew!
  • The resort offers 65,000 square feet of flexible meeting space to accommodate groups up to 1,660. Please contact the resort for a full list of their meeting accommodations.



Raven Golf Club – one of four professional courses on the property or 1.866.91.BEACH or 850.267.8116
Special thanks to Lanier Motes, Laurie Hobbs and the hospitable staff at the resort

This past April marked the 23rd annual festival. The three-day event starts off with cheese and Scotch whisky seminars and more. Saturday and Sunday are the Grand Wine Tasting days. For four hours each afternoon you can taste at over 100 wine tents, sampling some of the best appellations, styles and price ranges from all the major areas in the world. They’ve also added a cheese pavilion this year with an amazing array of selections from around the world.

One of the best touches of this festival is the ability to purchase the wines you like right on the grounds at the retail wine tent. It makes the tasting more serious if you are going to purchase.

It’s fun to see everyone’s different ways of scoring and tracking their favorite wines. One woman I met showed me her simple, yet effective way. It started with no, and then went to good, love it and OMG (Oh my God). Whatever works for you, as long as you don’t depend on what’s left in your memory after four hours of tasting!

Virginia Mariani-Kitt, a family proprietor of Castello Banfi and her “crew” pouring at the festival. Notice the 5-liter of Brunello di Montalcino on the right, which had a “help yourself” pour tap on it

The Destin Charity Wine Auction at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort ran concurrently with the wine festival. The Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation’s mission is to connect wine enthusiasts to raise money for children in need. It was attended by many celebrity vintners and chefs and featured a wide array of lots to bid on, all for a great cause! For more information on this wonderful charity auction please log onto