Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday April 25th 2018

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Fine Wine, Fine Art

Fifth Annual Pensacola Wine Festival Adds New Taste
by Dylan O’Leary

What goes with fine wine? Fine art.

In it’s fifth year, the Pensacola Wine Festival will add fine art (and the artists who make it) to its roster of attractions.

“We think it’ll add a little more flavor to the event,” said Jim Sweida, board president of Blue Morning Gallery and an organizer of the artistic addition to the wine festival. “We’re expecting about eight to 10 artists to participate.”
Add a little music from live bands on two balconies serenading the visitors, and that’s a good afternoon of ambiance.

At its heart, the Pensacola Wine Festival provides a place for distributors to let their wines flow to all who will try them. About 80-100 different wines will be presented by a variety of distributors, all for just $30. And since that’s the cost of one or two good bottles of wine, that’s a good deal—about one sip of wine every two minutes. Plus, you get to keep the complimentary wine glass.

The festival, which is organized by the Downtown Improvement Board, will close off Palafox Street south of Garden Street. Several business in the area are looking forward to the milling, mulling crowds.
Nick Fawal, owner and executive chef at Vic & Ike’s Restaurant on Palafox Street, welcomes the event.

“We’ll host two wine tastings at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. to kick things off with some select wines,” Fawal said. “And we’ll be pairing wines with appetizers made especially for the evening. Wine goers are very particular people who want quality food and wine, and this is a great opportunity to offer that and show our stuff.

“And anything that happens downtown in Pensacola is great for this economy. I’m new to the area but in so many other places I’ve worked, especially places like D.C. and Birmingham, Ala., local events are heavily promoted for that very reason. I get the impression—again, I’m an outsider—that the downtown is held up like a fragile vase. It isn’t. It’s a container that should be used for the wealth of the community.”

The Wine Bar, also on Palafox Street, is also gearing up for the big event.

“We are excited that the Pensacola Wine Festival will take place right on Palafox so close to us,” said Mari Josephs, general manager at The Wine Bar. “The festival will certainly bring additional business to all of us downtown.”

The festival has been quite successful in the past but is hampered by a lack of sponsors who have financed festival events up front, said Executive Director of the Downtown Improvement Board Franklin Kimbrough. Despite the addition of fine art for sale, some of the events from recent years aren’t to be found this year, like the reserve tasting, a wine dinner, and another tasting on Pensacola Beach.

“And we won’t be able to get statistics on the event, which is unfortunate,” Kimbrough said. “We found out that during the 2009 festival, 26 percent of the attendees, about 250 people, came from outside the Baldwin, Escambia and Santa Rosa area. Regardless, this is a great time for people who like wine to branch out and try wine they’d normally never try.”

Kimbrough added that despite the recent economic woes, the festival sold out last year—all 750 tickets. So make sure you get your ticket soon.

At the gate, festival goers will receive a brochure with a check-off list of all the wines available at the festival. When you find a bottle you want, step into Distinctive Kitchens and buy a bottle. Or a case.

Curtis Flower, manager at Distinctive Kitchens, and his staff are ready to receive those who want to take home great wine values.
“Every wine poured that day will be available for purchase by the bottle and case in Distinctive Kitchens, while supplies last, until 8 p.m.” Flower said.
Flower was a strong advocate of the wine festival’s creation, having organized a few before in other communities as a wine distributor.

“These are great events,” Flower added. “It hugely promotes Pensacola as a place to visit and gives visitors an opportunity to explore and expand their horizons on different varietals—and find a great bottle of wine.”

WHEN: 3-6 p.m. Saturday, April 16
WHERE: South Palafox, Downtown Pensacola
COST: $30, 21 or older to enter

600 South, 600 S. Palafox
Distinctive Kitchens Culinary Arts Center, 29 S. Palafox
Ever’man Natural Foods, 315 W. Garden St.
Jackson’s Steakhouse, 400 S. Palafox
Vic & Ike’s, 104 S. Palafox
Wine World Wine Bar, 16 S. Palafox