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South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival 2017 to Feature a Star Studded Line Up of Prominent Wine and Spirits Industry Experts

Miramar Beach, Fla. – (March 01, 2017) – A dazzling roster of celebrity winemakers and distillers will converge in South Walton, Florida to wine, dine, educate and entertain guests as part of the four-day celebration of wine, spirits, food, music and fun.

One of the most anticipated events of the season, South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival will be held April 27-30, 2017 in Grand Boulevard at Sandestin located within the beach communities of idyllic South Walton in Northwest Florida.
Throughout the Town Center of Grand Boulevard, attendees enjoy such attractions as Spirits Row, Champagne Lane Tastings, Savor South Walton Culinary Village, Nosh Pavilions, Tasting Seminars, Craft Beer & Spirits Jam, live entertainment and more than 800 wines poured by knowledgeable wine industry insiders.

Here we proudly introduce some of the A-list wine industry experts taking part in this year’s festivities:

Erik Saccomani, Brand Ambassador, Marchesi Antinori Wines
Throughout its long history, spanning 26 generations, the Antinori family has always personally managed business from their offices in Florence. The Antinori Family reputation has grown throughout the centuries by making innovative, sometimes courageous choices, always with unwavering respect for tradition and the land. Erik Saccomani was raised in the city of Verona, Italy. He graduated from hospitality school in 2000, and has since forged his passion for wine and food by working in several recognized restaurants as a sommelier and beverage director in both Italy and the U.S. Today, he oversees the Florida market for Marchesi Antinori with responsibilities spanning across the southeastern United States.

Glenn C. Salva, Wine Estate Manager, Antica Napa Valley
The Antinori family’s winemaking history has been synonymous with the famed wine growing regions of Tuscany and Umbria since its inception more than six centuries ago when Giovanni di Piero Antinori entered the “Ante Fiorentina,” the Winemakers Guild of Florence, in 1385. The name Antica blends the sensibilities of “Antinori” and “California” and represents the family’s longstanding desire to craft exceptional estate wines that are a true expression of Napa Valley terroir. Glenn Salva, a Cornell educated viticulturist, brings 30 years of Napa Valley winegrowing to his work as Wine Estate Manager for Antica Napa Valley, where he has been responsible for all winegrowing activities since 2002. In addition to his Antica Napa Valley role, he also works with other Antinori and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates joint wine ventures in the Red Mountain region of Washington State, as well as the iconic Stag’s Leap Winery Cellars, also located in Napa Valley.

Thomas Houseman, Winemaker, Anne Amie
Anne Amie winemaker Thomas Houseman fell in love with Pinot Noir while enrolled in CSU Fresno’s enology program. From Fresno, he journeyed across the globe to California’s Anderson Valley, then to New Zealand, and finally to Oregon. After four years at Ponzi Vineyards, Houseman was offered the opportunity to express himself at Anne Amie Vineyards, nestled in Oregon’s verdant Willamette Valley, where Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc form the heart of wine production, complemented by an Old-Vine Estate Riesling and Müller Thurgau, planted in 1979. With the creativity of a former dancer, the eye of a scientist, and the zeal of a home brewer, he makes wines that feed his enthusiasm.

Franco Massolino, Winemaker, Massolino Winery
The history of the Massolino family and their Italian wine became entwined with the history of Serralunga d’Alba in 1896, when Giovanni founded the estate. An enterprising, tenacious and creative man, his legacy has been making the combination of inspiration and tradition something to be proud of. In the 1990s oenologist Franco Massolino officially joined the family estate (along with his brother Roberto). Their work condenses the experience of an entire family and the ambition of a new generation, determined to make an important contribution to the innovation of oenological and agronomical techniques and to the image of the estate in Italy and abroad.

Andrew Holloway, Winemaker, Rombauer Winery
When founders Koerner and Joan Rombauer moved their two children, two horses and five dogs to Napa Valley in 1972, they arrived armed with an appreciation for the intimate relationship between food and wine. Today, the St. Helena, California winery remains owned and operated by first-, second- and third-generation members of the family. Andrew Holloway joined Rombauer as a full-time cellar worker in 2012, and is now Assistant Winemaker. The son of restaurateur parents who’ve been Rombauer supporters for years, Holloway has always had a passion for food, wine and science — a combination that serves him well in his winemaking role.

Laurent Gruet, Winemaker, Gruet Winery
The Gruet family immigrated from Champagne, France, to New Mexico in 1984 to pursue their patriarch’s dream of making sparkling wines. Laurent, and his sister, Nathalie, two (of four) siblings would take the lead of what soon became the American endeavor, Gruet Winery. Like his father, quality is Laurent’s top priority and it underscores his winemaking passion today. In 2011 Wine Spectator named his Gruet NV Blanc de Noirs a Top 100 wine of the world, a crowning jewel of acclaim for any winemaker and nearly unprecedented for a sparkling wine under $20.

Don Hartford, Owner, Hartford Family Wines & CEO, Jackson Family Wines
For more than 20 years, Don Hartford has been immersed in winemaking and winery management and in the process returned to one of his first loves — the land and farming. Though Hartford Family Wines now produces 30 different wines from 15 different vineyards, Don and Jenny Hartford stay close to the terroir by leading the farming of the winery’s vineyards, including a small old vine Zinfandel vineyard behind their home. The Hartford Family Winery, located in the heart of the famed Russian River Valley just 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, is yet another rich layer of their family’s impressive wine legacy story. Don’s wife, Jennifer (Jenny) Jackson Hartford, is the oldest daughter of Jess S. Jackson and a co-proprietor of her family’s global wine collection company, Jackson Family Wines, an impressive collection of historic vineyards and more than 40 premium brands throughout California, Oregon, Italy, France, Chile, Australia and South Africa. Hartford also is CEO of Jackson Family Wines.

Michael Moore, South Eastern Regional Sales Manager, Signorello Estate
With vineyards first planted in the mid-1970s and wine production beginning in 1985, Signorello Estate today occupies 100 acres along the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley where it focuses on producing 7,000 cases of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as an array of small batch, single vineyard wines. Michael Moore began his career in wine and spirit sales working with various importers and distributors and later founded his own wine import firm. In his role as Signorello’s South Eastern Regional Sales Manager, he manages the winery’s distributor sales force, key accounts and regional marketing efforts.
Spirits play a significant role in the festival with superstar master distillers participating on the festival’s “Spirits Row” and at Friday night’s Craft Beer & Spirits Jam to pour and discuss their brands and methodology. Among them are:

Tommy Brunett, Founder/Owner, Iron Smoke Whiskey
Rocker-turned-whiskey-maker Tommy Brunett founded Iron Smoke Whiskey with his partner Steve Brown in 2011. A singer, songwriter and showman, Brunett and his band Tommy Brunett Band, have opened for national acts such as ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, Cracker, Marshall Tucker Band and Kellie Pickler. As a guitarist with the British rock band Modern English (“I Melt with You”) in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, he toured the world. A successful marketer, Brunett also was owner of Universal Buzz Intelligence, a former New York City-based marketing agency and Universal Buzz Radio, a nationally syndicated radio program. A natural raconteur, Brunett still rocks with his band, The Tommy Brunett Band, and will take the mainstage at Friday night’s
Craft Beer & Spirits Jam.

James C. “Jimmy” Russell, Master Distiller, Wild Turkey Distillery
James C. “Jimmy” Russell has been making whiskey at the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, for 60 years, and today, is the longest-tenured, active spirits Master Distiller in the world. Russell is a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame and was granted a Lifetime Honorary Membership to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association’s Board of Directors, an honor bestowed to only five other individuals during the organization’s 134-year history. Russell has been responsible for launching many new Wild Turkey brands and expressions, such as Tradition, Tribute, 17-year-old Wild Turkey for Japan, Rare Breed, American Spirit, Kentucky Spirit and Russell’s Reserve, which he co-created with his son and distilling partner Eddie Russell.

Wes Henderson, Master Distiller, Angel’s Envy
Wes was inspired by legendary Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson, his father, who spent his life crafting fine spirits, and claimed Angel’s Envy to be his masterpiece. The 5 percent of spirit lost each year during barrel aging is called the “Angel’s Share.” After tasting their finished whiskey for the first time, Lincoln Henderson joked that he’d finally gotten a better deal than the angels. Today, Wes Henderson honors his father’s legacy serving as the Chief Innovations Officer. Under his guidance, the company has grown both successfully and sustainably. And their port-finished whiskey bourbon has become the “comfort food” of the spirits world.

Carlton Grooms, General Manager, Papa’s Pilar Rum
Even before it opened, Papa’s Pilar Rum tapped Carlton Grooms as general manager of its Key West Distillery and Experience Center. As a former Naval Officer, entrepreneur, chief financial officer, world traveler, author and rum enthusiast, Grooms has an impressive resume — not to mention an MBA from the Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania. A Key West resident since 2011, Grooms built his knowledge of his favorite spirit over many years and numerous trips to Caribbean distilleries. Ultimately, his experiences and reputation in the rum world led him to co-found the International Rum Council and co-author the book, “Rum & Contemporary Cuisine.”

Harlen Wheatley, Master Distiller, The Sazerac Company/Buffalo Trace Distillery
Harlen Wheatley was born not far from the ancient buffalo paths that mark the historic and storied home of Buffalo Trace Distillery in the bluegrass region of Kentucky. His formal education in chemistry and chemical engineering brought him to Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1995, but it’s the on-the-job experience in every aspect of production from raw materials to barrel aging that led him to become Buffalo Trace’s resident Master Distiller in 2005, an honor bestowed to only six people since the Civil War. Wheatley’s deep experience has made him a four-time James Beard Award nominee in the Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional category.

Fred Parent, Brand Ambassador, Hendrick’s Gin
An elixir enthusiast by day and night, Fred Parent’s wealth of knowledge in unusual cocktails serves him well as brand ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin. Having worked as a bartender and beverage director all over New York City, his infatuation with mixology led him to create Mixed Neat, a company that curated unique mobile events focusing on ingredients, exquisite cocktails and a memorable one-of-a-kind experience. Parent was a pillar in the growing cocktail scene in Harlem, now one of New York’s most up-and-coming neighborhoods. As the Hendrick’s Brand Ambassador in the Central & Southern regions, he brings his passion for potent concoctions to the heartland of the U.S.

Robert Ryan, East Coast Brand Ambassador, Tullamore D.E.W.
A graduate of Trinity College Dublin with a Bachelor’s degree in social studies, Ryan is passionate about the food and beverage industry and gained hands-on experience working in bars in his home town Athlone, Dublin, Chicago and Galway. His love of travel led him to take a year off college and he spent time teaching English in China, visiting family in the U.A.E and Australia and inter-railing around Europe. Ryan recently has worked with a soft drinks firm in Dublin, running promotional nights and training bar staff to make mixed drinks with the company’s brand labels.
“We are honored to be attracting some of the industries brightest stars to our festival,” said South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival founder Chan Cox. “The making of wine, beer and spirits really is an art and that’s what separates industrial wine or beers from the rest. Our festival is a great opportunity to meet and talk with them find out more about what exactly goes into what their pouring.”

The Craft Beer & Spirits Jam kicks off the festival Friday from 6 to 9 p.m.; the Grand Tastings are on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Advance tickets are $35 for Friday; $99 for Saturday and Sunday (tickets include Spirits Row, Champagne Lane, wine and food tastings, seminars and live entertainment); and $175 for the VIP Tasting includes all amenities of the Grand Tasting plus exclusive celebrity pouring and food tastings, XL Riedel wine glass and express entry to the Grand Tasting. Two-day Grand Tasting passes are available for $175. The VIP Tasting is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Grand Tasting starts at 1 p.m. The event is rain or shine; sorry pets are not allowed in Culinary Village. To purchase tickets and view the full festival schedule, visit http://www.SoWalWine.com.

The Destin Charity Wine Auction (DCWA) also takes place on Saturday during the festival with more than 500 patrons bidding on luxury travel packages, collectable wines and other fine living lots. Monies raised at the auction as well as proceeds from the festival go to support more than a dozen children’s charities in Northwest Florida.

Presented by Visit South Walton and Wine Enthusiast Media, the festival offers an ideal backdrop for a beach getaway.
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. ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals is the official lodging partner.

Follow this link to images of many of the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival celebrity guests.http:// https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yj338ujyoqyi959/AADkFnhiG9PIzHtvarxo9ufNa?dl=0

About South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival
This year’s annual South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival will be held April 27-30, 2017, throughout the Town Center of Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. The festival features a stunning showcase of more than 800 of the best wines the world has to offer. Meet the celebrity wine producers and master distillers presenting their fine wine and spirits from around the world. The Savor South Walton Culinary Village offers a sumptuous array of foods to taste, wines to pair, as well as popular wine and food tasting seminars. Visit Spirits Row, Champagne Lane and Nosh Pavilions. Enjoy live entertainment throughout the weekend. This event is a major fundraiser for Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, which benefits children in need in Northwest Florida. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.SoWalWine.com.


For South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival Stacey Brady, Director of Marketing and Public Relations Grand Boulevard at Sandestin
850.837.3099 ext. 3

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