Sunday, April 28, 2024

Pour Boys gather for SoWal Wine Festival weekend in Destin

Pour Boys gather for SoWal Wine Festival weekend in Destin/Sandestin 

Several members of our Pour Boys wine group gathered in Destin (FL) for a festive wine weekend centered on the SoWal (South Walton Beaches) Wine and Food Festival. Our center of activities of wine dinners, swimming, beach walks and pickleball was The Cove, our Destin vacation rental home.

The annual SoWal festival lasts three days from Friday afternoon/evening through Sunday afternoon held on Grand Boulevard in Sandestin (FL) - the schedule and extensive activities are listed on-line here -  SoWal Wine Festival Activities

I wrote in separate blogposts in these pages about our wine dinners Thursday (Shiraz with BBQ Ribs at Pour Boys wine dinner), and Friday (Sea Market Crab Cakes anchor wine dinner) at The Cove, then Saturday night when we dined at The Chef’s Table in The Wine Cellar Room at the Wine Bar Restaurant in Destin

The festival offers attendees several options, to purchase passes for each day individually, or a VIP Pass that covers the entire event. We purchased the VIP pass but found the Saturday and Sunday events to be redundant with the Sunday event being less crowded and congested than Saturday. Also, several of the ultra-premium wines, which we’re most interested in, ran out on Saturday, and were restocked and brought out again on Sunday. 

An obvious and primary benefit of the VIP pass was access to the VIP Tent on Friday evening, which featured a broad selection of wines and “A Taste of Grand Boulevard” featuring culinary small plates from the local eateries including Emeril’s Coastal, PF Changs, Flemings, Tommy Bahama and others. 

Adjacent the VIP tent was the Wine Auction but it was unclear if or when VIP members were able to attend, a pity given our collective investment in deep broad wine cellars, and in wine and dine events and travel. 

On Saturday, the VIP Tent was transformed to the Culinary Village offering food and sparkling wines but it was closed due to an electrical system overload fire hazard, so we were never able to partake of whatever it had to offer. 

Saturday and Sunday on the Town Center Main Stage, there featured live music on the Nashville Songwriter’s Showcase. Performing each day were Aaron Barker and Bridgette Tatum, the Reeves Brothers and Scott Reeves annd The Casey Kearney Band.

There was a large contingent of volunteers pouring wines, a role we know well having served at the annual UGCB event for the past fifteen years, which has earned our wine group the Pour Boys (TM) moniker. 

The UGC Bordeaux (Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB)), annual release tour is put on by the Union, the association of 130+ members of the top premier wine producer estates from the most prestigious Bordeaux appellations. In cooperation with distributors, brokers and merchants they host over 80 events in fifteen countries visiting 65 cities to present their wines to some 50,000 or so professionals and wine lovers each year around the world.

Here is my blogpost of this year’s UGC tasting event -  UGCB 2021 Vintage Release Tour 2024 Comes to Chicago, and earlier years …

Aside the volunteer pourers, the event attracted and offered the chance to meet several winemakers and producers and their representatives directly, which is always a highlight, almost as much as tasting the wines!  

There was another tent that featured Wine Tasting Seminars showcasing wines presented by the winemakers, producers or their ambassador representatives. These were subject to limited seating on a first come first served basis. 

The promotions for the event boast “six hundred plus wines presented by and poured by industry insiders”, and the different tastings included wines, as well as craft beers and spirits. 

Finally, there was a Retail Tent which offered for sale many of the wines being poured. We partook of this and each obtained several premium and ultra-premium wines.

For us, highlights of the event included:

Meeting winemakers, producers and their ambassadors …

And of course tasting some old favorites, and discovering some new wines!