The stars of the wine and culinary worlds will descend upon South Walton this week as Cristina Mariani-May and dozens of major winemakers, along with one of the world’s most prolific chefs, Emeril Lagasse, gear up to participate in the South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival April 24-27 at Grand Boulevard. This extravaganza features more than 800 wines, an extensive culinary village, wine dinners, tasting seminars, a craft beer and spirits event and live entertainment.

“This is the most impressive gathering of world-class winemakers we’ve ever had and the participation of Emeril Lagasse, Cristina Mariani-May, and the other major wine celebrities, make this festival the most exciting I’ve ever been associated with,” said Festival Organizer Chan Cox of Wine World.

Mariani-May, family proprietor and co-CEO of Castello Banfi Vintners, will be featured alongside other nationally and internationally recognized wine personalities and industry experts, including Anthony Hamilton Russell, owner of Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Fran Kysela of Kysela Pere et Fils, LTD – Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Importer of the Year;  Gianni Abate of Morgan Winery; Michael Adelsheim of Adelsheim Vineyard and many others.

Tasting Seminars will be held at both Grand Tastings from 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Lagasse, Mariani-May, Hamilton-Russell and Kysela are among the celebrities presenting seminars.

Lagasse, the 2013 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year, will sit down for a fun, informal interview with wine and media celebrity Cristina Mariani-May, CEO of Banfi Vintners with introductions from Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  The audience will be able to ask questions of the chef and, in the spirit of this charity festival, no topics are off limits.

On the music side, The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is bringing Nashville’s top songwriters to the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival. The songwriters will perform as a continuation of the Endless Summer Music Series in conjunction with BMI, a leader in music rights management. Throughout the weekend, the songwriters will perform and tell stories about their biggest hits written for the stars of the music business, including Tim McGraw, George Straight, Jason Aldean and many others.  

The festival is being presented by Visit South Walton Tourist Development Council and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Wyndham Vacation Rentals is the Official Lodging Partner for the festival. For a full schedule of events and tickets, go to