A TALE OF TWO WINE FESTIVALS: The story behind the ‘divorce'

Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 03:00 PM.


Not enough room at the Inn

One of Sandestin’s looming limitations was the business conference lodging schedule. A multi-year contract for a business conference had been booked concurrent with the traditional Wine Festival weekend during John Russell’s time as the Senior Vice President of Operations for Sandestin. Since then Russell has taken the post of executive director of the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.

“The conference business at Sandestin is always going to be a cap on the business,” said Russell, who said the conferences are important money generators for the resort. “Is (the wine festival) ever going to reach South Beach numbers? Who knows. But it would never reach those numbers in the Village.”

The conference-goers were set to descend on the resort the fourth weekend of April, the traditional weekend of the Sandestin Wine Festival. So, Sandestin decided that for the festival to have enough space, it would need to be moved to the third weekend in April.

This did not sit well with Cox.

“ ‘I would love to have always the same weekend,’ ” Comtois recalled Cox saying. Comtois added, “I agree with him. But the festival finds its way to grow every year.”

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