By Kristy Gustafson
Thanks to our breathtaking backdrop and the various walks of life our area attracts, it’s safe to say South Walton knows a thing or two about bringing people together. Add in diverse offerings like art, music, eats and sips, and every event becomes a celebration of 30A’s movers and shakers – and, of course, all those simply looking for a darn good time.
For one in particular, it’s a weekend of the finest sips, live music, culinary conversation, and, as always, giving back. Add some flair from the one and only Alys Beach and you get the 30A Wine Festival.
In nearly a decade’s running, this ever-growing festival has become to 30A foodies and wine lovers what the Oscars are to Hollywood. Each year it welcomes renowned vintners, distillers, brewers and culinary favorites as well as notes of laidback luxury. And as one of USA Today’s Top 10 Wine Festivals in the Country, it never fails to pull out all the stops.
Over the course of the five-day celebration which benefits the Children’s Volunteer Health Network, around 1,000 attendees grace the grounds of Alys Beach. Each year kicks off with an intimate wine dinner in the Red Loggia at Caliza Restaurant. This year featured a four-course meal prepared by Chef Drew Dzejak in addition to wine courtesy of Valdez Family Winery.
Next up comes an evening in Central Park that pays homage to our southern roots and revolves around everyone’s favorite iconic duo: Oysters & Champagne. Presented by Garden & Gun, it’s a night of live music, oysters from all across the South, and a whole lot of bubbly, perfectly paving the way for the weekend festivities to come.
Friday begins with some DIY, a mixology seminar to help you elevate your favorite cocktails before diving into one of the festival’s main events: Bourbon, Beer & Butts (aka “B3”). For this night, which takes place on Kelly Green, ready your taste buds for some of the country’s finest barbeque paired with none other than the best bourbon and craft beer from near and far. In past years this has been the chilliest night of the weekend, so dress warm and let the whiskey and melt-off-the-bone meats do the rest.
Before the grandest of them all comes Saturday’s Wine Seminars for a little “swirl, sip, learn, repeat.” That afternoon brings attendees to the heart of Alys for the Grand Tasting event. As you stroll down South Charles Street, you have the choice of over 80 different wines from around the globe as well as light bites and live music to accompany you on your walk.
The weekend concludes with a day of sunshine, friendly competition, delicious brunch, and best of all, Rosé all day. It revolves around their annual croquet tournament where players and spectators alike are encouraged to dress in all white as they toast their favorite team.