Local artist Donna Burgess has leant her talented brush and creative mind to many a wine festival, beginning in 1990, when she began creating the official wine festival posters for the then 3-year-old Sandestin Wine Festival. She was the artistic brain behind those signature posters for almost 20 years before retiring to allow others the opportunity and to pursue other endeavors.

However, due to popular demand for her iconic collectible posters that wine festival attendees look forward to each year, Burgess was brought back for the festival's 25th and 26th annual festivals in 2011 and 2012.

This year, the artist's talents have been tapped to create the face for a new poster: that of the new South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival, taking place April 25-28 at Grand Boulevard. 

Burgess's initial foray into creation of wine festival posters was a collaboration with the Sandestin Wine Festival's founder, Chan Cox, of Chan's Wine World and the winemakers who attended.

This year, Cox is striking out again on his own in creating the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival. And he wanted Burgess to create the festival's first signature poster.

"We are pleased to have another important community partner join us at The South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival," said Cox. "Donna Burgess became our Festival artist over 20 years ago to help me brand the Sandestin Wine Festival. Her annual paintings quickly became collectors’ items. I'm sure our patrons will be excited to see Donna's work as we continue this 27-year tradition at Grand Boulevard."

Burgess has owned and operated an art gallery at Grand Boulevard for three years.

"I am doing this one for this first festival because of Chan," said Burgess. "We have collaborated on these for 20 years; I went with Chan because I have always worked with him. I started with him. I am so excited! It's a brand new thing, but yet a continuance. And the festival will be held in my own back yard at Grand Boulevard."

A gallery owner for more than 25 years, Burgess is known for her striking use of color in not only creating wine festival posters, but also in replicating images of Florida cottages, children playing on the beach, and pets.

The art for this year’s festival is one of the most challenging she has created.

"Past posters I have created have had more traditional wine artwork. But this one is different," she said.

For this poster, Burgess incorporated images of glasses of wine, a wine bottle, eating utensils, one of the festival's virtual promotional personas, and one of the brochures with one of the characters.

"This is a first for me in that it is not my typical traditional wine poster," she said.

These first official posters are signed and numbered in a series of 500 and come with a certificate of authenticity. They are available now at her Donna Burgess Gallery at Grand Boulevard, and she will be signing posters during both Grand Tasting events at the festival. The cost for the posters is $40.

South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival is poised to become an annual charity event held the last weekend of April.

Celebrity wine producers and chefs will present fine wine and food pairings from some of the world’s most famous appellations. The Culinary Village will present the Savor South Walton Culinary Pavilion showcasing an array of foods to taste, wines to pair, as well as wine and food seminars and cooking demonstrations.

The event is a major fundraiser for Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, which benefits children in need in Northwest Florida.

For more information, including a list of attending winemakers and to purchase tickets, visit www.sowalwine.com.