Every now and again, it's nice to get out of town, and what better place to do that than in the architecturally acclaimed town of Seaside, Florida. Make it a girls' trip, throw in some red wine and sunshine, and it's hard to top. Off the Duck did exactly this at the Silver Anniversary of the Seaside Seeing Red Wine Festival last weekend, November 5-8, where we even ran into some local folks, as noted below.
The four-day festival has been recognized by Fodor’s Travel as one of the “Top 10 Can’t-Miss Fall Wine Festivals.” We specifically went for Saturday afternoon's "The Grand Tasting," which was the main event and featured more than 250 wines for tasting.
Thanks to fellow traveler Julie Crichton's quick thinking, we employed a backwards strategy by starting the event across the street along the oceanside, working our way back to the Central Square where the band and majority of the vendors were located. This worked well, as most of the crowd did exactly the opposite.
We also figured out along the way that there was simply no way to taste so many wines in three hours. So we focused on trying the vendor's top-rated and most expensive offerings, instead of sampling each and every bottle the vendors offered at their booths.
Since man (and woman in this case) cannot live by wine alone, the festival also had an array of food samplings mixed in with the wine booths. Most of the "light bites" came from South Walton's leading local restaurants, but a few other establishments were also there.
Our favorite booth, of course, belonged to Columbia-native Scott Witherow (pictured above left) who is the owner and founder of Oliver and Sinclair of Southern Artisan Chocolate™ and Seersucker Candy Co. Not only were we fortunate enough to score some of his amazing Seersucker chocolates, but we also got to visit with his lovely wife and precious daughter (pictured above middle).
While next year's festival is nearly a year away, if this sounds like a festival you'd like to attend, you may want to bookmark the event, as it sells out every year. Tickets range in price for the various events, but The Grand Tasting runs $150 for general admission, while VIP tickets are $300 and include early admission at 12:30 p.m., as well as access to the VIP tent with a private tasting of rare and premium wines.