Whether youâ€™re a somber food critic or culinary fanatic, there was something for everyone at this yearâ€™s Charleston Wine & Food Festival. Over the past weekend the Charleston Wine and Food Festival drew in huge crowds and foodies with promises of top chefs, flavors to helpÂ satisfy anyÂ taste craving, and gourmet food.
The weekend was full of events, tastings, even aÂ Top Chef Quickfire with host Gail Simmons. The Culinary Village wasÂ the heart and soul of Charleston Wine + Food. Located in downtownâ€™s Marion Square, the Village heldÂ the ultimate tasting experiences. This yearÂ featured more wine offerings than ever before and an expanded live music stage.
The VIP Village tent gave us time to rest our feet, enjoy light bites, and conduct interviews with Top Chefs. Â TheÂ Artisan Market wasÂ stocked full of incredible local and regional makers showcasing their masterful creations and unique flavors. But there was stillÂ plenty of time to explore the Third Space where weÂ found demos and tastings.
A quick Uber ride to Salty Mikes had everything you could expect from a Cajun meets low-country boil including groovinâ€™ to live tunes. Held outdoors in the bright Charleston sunshine, it hadÂ all the trimmings of The Holy and Crescent cities, served up with cold beer, delectable Virginia Wines, belly-warming Firefly Spirits, and no shortage of coastal charm.
A Bourbon Affair held Friday afternoon at The Cedar Room at The Cigar Factory was the ultimate tasting experience showcasing a menu of more than 50 of the countryâ€™s most beloved bourbons. It was the perfect setting for an afternoon of stylish bites, fashionable day drinking, and impeccable Southern flair â€“ including a swanky outdoor cigar lounge.
Battered and BrewedÂ rounded out Friday evening at the Nassau Street SideshowÂ at Lewis Barbecue complete with Brushfire Collective Fire and Dance, Glamnation the Southeastâ€™s PREMIER 80s Hair Band Tribute, delicious bites from Nashvilleâ€™s Biscuit Love, and beer from Snafu Brewing Company, a local Charleston, SC craft brewery.Â We were mesmerized with out-of-this-world meaty treats and marvels of culinary delight.Â
Up early on Saturday, the Culinary Village was not in full swing yet, so we took full advantage of the Industry Lounge presented by Opentable. The beautifully curated area served as a retreat for guest media, talent, and public relations professionals attending and working the festival. We enjoyed the most delicious wine from Ironstone Vineyards calledÂ Obsession Symphony and grabbed a bite to eat from The Glass Onion, a progressive southern restaurant in Charleston that supports local sustainability.
One of the most gorgeous venues Saturday wasÂ downtown at Charlestonâ€™s historic William Aiken House for a grand tasting of Pinots sure to please every palate. Food pairings from an elite lineup of chefs awaited each delicious sip.Â
Itâ€™s no secret that Charlestonâ€™s waterways lend themselves to a bounty of coastal flavors, and Shucked-aÂ favorite festival fÃªte, showcased just that. The star of the show was oysters (raw and steamed), but the full menu featured an array of seafood bites washed down with cold brews, crisp wines, and carefree tunes by The Bluestone Ramblers.Â WithÂ stunning view of the Charleston harbor we say, cheers to that!
What the Pho? An Asian-inspired, high-energy, festive nighttime experience featured aÂ lineup of a dozen local and guest chefs that all offeredÂ their spin on noodles and other flavorful Eastern bites. It was just what we needed to end ourÂ Saturday. Aya Cookhouse rocked our mouths with the most delicious Pho we have ever tasted.Â The vibrant menu,Â atmosphere, incredible craft cocktails, cold brews, yummy wine, and DJ Rehab beatsÂ offeredÂ moreÂ fun thanÂ we could ever dream up.
Charleston, having recently been named was â€œBest City in the Worldâ€ by the 2016Â Travel + LeisureÂ Readersâ€™ Choice Awards, is exemplified by the Charleston Wine + Food culinary excellence and honors the undeniable charm that makes Charleston, South Carolina a beloved travel destination. The festival tookÂ place over the course of five full days, March 1 â€“ 5, 2017, featuring more than 100 unique experiences in various locations throughout the historic Southern city.Â
ABOUT CHARLESTON WINE + FOOD:
Charleston Wine + Food is a cultural entity that champions Charleston and the Lowcountryâ€™s unique foodways through world-renowned culinary experiences. Fueled by a contagious passion for the people and places that make Charleston worth celebrating, the annual festival infuses homegrown flavor with top chefs, winemakers, authors, storytellers, artisans, and food enthusiasts from around the globe for a five-day event that spans the first full weekend each March. Charleston Wine + Food is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization thatÂ supports the Lowcountryâ€™s diverse culinary + hospitality community through financial contributions to organizations or persons that directly benefit our local foodway initiatives and strengthen our local community.
By the numbers:
250+ local and guest chefs
150+ local and guest beverage experts
28 Beverage Workshops
More than 30 events under $100
Charleston Wine + Food is a non-profit organization. Since its founding in 2006, the festival has distributed more than $355,000 to local culinary + hospitality initiatives. Additionally, the 2016 festival yielded an economic impact of $9.1 million, more than triple the organizationâ€™s annual budget.