Groundhog Day has passed and luckily we are not stuck in a perpetual rerun of February 2nd. However, if that reincarnated 24 hours happened to be the second Saturday in March and I found myself in Hilton Head Island, then instead of some kind of purgatory I would believe I did make it into heaven. That’s because it would be Wine & Food Festival day! My love of great wine (and food) satiated into infinity among the friendly folks and warm, blue skies of Hilton Head Island.
Dialing it back from that day dream, I am thrilled to once again be looking forward to the upcoming 28th annual Hilton Head Wine & Food Festival. Beginning on March 4th with the first of 16 Great Chefs of the South Wine Dinners, these popular events pair up a local superlative chef and a featured winery and will take place at various Island restaurants. Some of the participating restaurants this year include:
- Charlie’s L’etoile Verte (Featuring the “Sommelier smackdown”)
- ELA’s Blu Water Grille (Chef Chris Cohen and Constellation wines)
- Frankie Bones (Chef Luke Lyons and Trinchero Family Estates wines)
- Robert Irvine’s Eat! (Kobrand wines)
- RedFish (Chef Chaun Bescos and King Estates wines)
- Trattoria Divina (Chef Hugo Lee)
There are many more so check out the Festival webpage and with the restaurant(s) you’re interested in, to get details and updates.
On Friday, March 8th, the Festival wines kick it up a notch for a great cause. The Grand Tasting & Silent Auction offers the opportunity to learn about, taste, and purchase premium wines ($50+ retail) in an intimate setting. Enjoy a variety of wonderfully eclectic appetizer offerings, like peppered tuna tartar with seaweed slaw and wonton tuiles and smoked pork loin on blue cheese polenta cakes, paired with specialty selected premium wines poured during this event.
At the tasting, not only can you sample sophisticated wines, but the same bottles are available for purchase and/or are up for bid during the auction which benefits the John F. Curry Educational Hospitality Scholarship. The Grand Tasting & Silent Auction begins at 5:30 pm at the Sea Pines Country Club.
On Saturday, March 9th the quality meets quantity during the Festival’s showcase public event, (formerly referred to by locals as Winefest) called the Wine & Food Festival. Beginning at 12 noon 400 wines, including all the Festival award winners, will be available for tasting in the tents set up on the grounds of the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn. Ticket holders will also be able to bid on an impressive array of wines during the second silent auction and sample delicious offerings by local restaurants. Again this year there will be several fine Island chefs holding court at the Outdoor Gourmet with many using locally grown and/or sourced ingredients.
Chefs include Next Food Network Star contestant Orchid Paulmeier, Old Fort Pub’s Chef Keith Josefiak and Gullah cookbook author and educator Sallie Ann Robinson. Bragging rights are on the line (and cash prizes too!) so cheer on local bartenders and wait staff as they compete in the much-anticipated annual Bartender’s Challenge & Waiter’s Race. The Health & Wellness Stage and the Celebrity Lowcountry Authors Tent are sure to add a deliciously educational angle to your wine tasting experience.
Lest I forget there was a wine judging that started this whole ‘Fest 28 years ago. So without further ado, here are the “Best of” and “Double Gold” award winners at the 2013 International Wine Judging & Competition at the Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival:
- Best of Show: Bellow Family Vineyards, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, California
- Best of Show White: SA Prum, 2009 Riesling Kabinett
- Best Value Wine: J. Lohr, 2010 South Ridge Syrah
- Double Gold: Raymond Vineyards, 2010 Napa Valley Selection Cabernet Sauvignon
- Double Gold: Buehler Vineyards, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Double Gold: MacRostie, 2011 Chardonnay
- Double Gold: J. Lohr, 2010 Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon
- Double Gold: Vino da Monticello – Red, 2009, Le Mandorelle, Mosel
- Double Gold: Salentin, 2010 Malbec, Mendoza, Valle de Uco
- Double Gold: Pollack Vineyards, 2010 Merlot, Monticello
- Double Gold: Round Pond Estate, 2009, Rutherford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
- Double Gold: Trapiche-Oak Cask, 2011, Argentina, Mendoza
- Double Gold: Cupcake, 2011, Malbec, Mendoza
Great Chefs of the South Dinners, March 4-9 at various locations and times throughout the Island
Grand Tasting & Silent Auction, Friday, March 8 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the Sea Pines Country Club
Wine & Food Festival, Saturday, March 9 from 12 noon- 3 pm at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn