It’s the largest outdoor, public wine tasting event, with over 400 wines to sample, on the east coast and it takes place annually on Hilton Head Island, S.C.
there’s also food involved, as well as other related events.
Whether you’re a foodie, an oenophile or both, the 26th annual Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival
is the place for you. Happening through March 12, the event features something for all.
Kicking off Tuesday, March 8 is the Great Chef of the South Wine Dinners
taking place at different restaurants throughout the island. Through Friday, March 11, you have the opportunity to sample culinary delights (and more) specifically created by the participating chefs for this event. Additionally on Friday evening, there’s the Grand Tasting
scheduled at Harbour Town Golf Clubhouse and Conference Center.
However, if you can’t make it to the festival until Saturday, don’t think you’ve missed out. The Public Tasting
, which features the above-mentioned over 400 wines, take places from 12 - 4 p.m. at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn.
“I think one thing that’s truly unique about the event is that you’re enjoying great wine and phenomenal food at the Historic Honey Horn Plantation,” comments Charlie Clark, vice president of communications, Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce
. “It has a great feel to it among these centuries-old oak trees dripping with Spanish moss.”
In addition to the wines, there’s other activities to enjoy, too. She adds this is the rare wine event that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
“You’ll taste some amazing wine, but also have a little fun with such things as the waiter’s race, which pits the restaurant community in a little friendly competition. This year, we’re bringing in James Beard Award-winning chef Mike Lata, from FIG Restaurant in Charleston. A rising culinary star, he’ll be doing cooking demonstrations, and talking food and wine with attendees.”
Other activities going on include other chefs demonstrations, food samplings, live entertainment, silent auction and more.
A Little on Hilton Head Island’s Culinary Scene
What: 26th annual Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival
When: March 8-12
Where: Various locations around the island. The Great Chefs of the South Dinners, March 8-11, is held at different restaurants. The Grand Tasting on March 11 takes place at The Harbour Town Golf Clubhouse and Conference Center. The Public Tasting on Saturday, March 12 is at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn.
Price (s): Prices vary for The Great Chefs of the South Dinners. The Grand Tasting, $50/person. The Public Tasting, $40/person.
Time (s): Times differ for The Great Chefs of the South Dinners. The Grand Tasting, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. The Public Tasting, 12 – 4 p.m.
If you travel to eat (and really, who doesn’t), Hilton Head Island needs to be on your vacation radar
“Hilton Head Island is unique even within the southern food genre based in large part to our Gullah heritage, “ says Clark. “ Slaves who came from the West Angola area of Africa brought with them their food, language, customs, so on; and because we’re an island, they weren’t as influenced by those they worked for, many of whom lived on the mainland so they were able to retain so much of their culture. Gullah is a dialect you can still hear among native Islander families.”
She adds the waters are still pristine enough to harvest local oysters, and over the bridge in Bluffton is South Carolina’s last working oyster factory.
“Dishes like she-crab soup, Frogmore stew and Daufuskie crab are part of who we are. In this area grits are so much more than a breakfast food. You’re just as likely to see shrimp and grits at the finest table in town as you are next to your eggs at breakfast.”
She always encourage visitors to try our southern Island cuisine from all angle, from hole-in-the-wall spots like the Sea Shack to southern elegance at the Old Fort Pub, located on the grounds of historic Fort Mitchell.
“Another unique way to experience the flavors of the island is to simply purchase dinner as we do - right off the boat. Many visitors staying in our oceanfront homes or villas throughout the island, head to a spot like Hudson’s Seafood on the Docks to purchase freshly caught shrimp and take it back to the villa for dinner or as an appetizer with cocktails as they watch the sun set. “
“Such a difference in local, indigenous seafood from the usual you find in the store in a bag shipped in from elsewhere. It’s so worth the trip.”
photo credit: Food & Wine Festival, courtesy of Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce