For more than three decades, foodies have gathered in Hilton Head to celebrate this beach town’s culinary atmosphere in a picturesque setting.
The Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival from March 8-12 includes a Sip and Stroll wine and shopping event, educational seminars and plenty of delicious food and wine at two tasting events.
Here’s why it’s a must-attend festival for any food and wine aficionado:
1. This event has history.
The festival started 32 years ago as a way to attract springtime visitors and promote Hilton Head Island as more than a summer golf and beach destination. A group of wine enthusiasts and some talented chefs launched a springtime event – originally a three-hour tasting in a parking lot. The festival has grown to a six-day event that toasts the spring season on Hilton Head.
2. The festival has a charitable mission.
Sure, it’s fun to drink incredible wine and sample delicious food. But when you can do that and support a great cause, it’s even better.
Proceeds from the festival’s wine auction at the Grand and Public Tastings support the John & Valerie Curry Educational Scholarship Fund for college students pursuing degrees in the hospitality and tourism field. Scholarships are currently offered at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and the Technical College of the Lowcountry. In the last four years alone, the festival has given $42,000 in scholarships.
3. It’s tough to beat a food and wine festival at the beach.
Three years ago the festival moved to The Sea Pines Resort located along 5,000 oceanfront acres. The award-winning resort offers championship golf, tennis and biking trails as well as the famed Harbour Town with more than 20 boutiques, galleries and gift shops.
Part of the festival is the Sip and Stroll event, which lets guests sample wine while shopping at Harbour Town. “We started it two years ago and got a lot of great responses,” says Jeff Gerber, festival director. “It was a blast. It’s a really relaxed event.”
4. You can enjoy world-class wines.
About a month before the festival, wines from around the world are part of a competition judged by 25 professional and accredited wine judges. Many of the winning wines are featured at dinners hosted by Hilton Head restaurants in conjunction with the festival.
The Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival is an intimate event featuring the best culinary talents of Hilton Head, Gerber says. The island – often ranked a best beach in the country – gets a lot of attention, but as a culinary destination it’s off the beaten path.
“We have a lot of great chefs here,” he says. “Come experience some new favorites and some up and comers. It’s a chance to discover some new chefs, some hidden jewels.”