It’s spring in Savannah, but it’s a wine–lover’s summer paradise on Tybee this week for the fourth annual Tybee Wine Festival.
As the weather heats up and the bikinis come out, the Tybee Post Theater has crafted a three–day event sure to turn even the most novice–wine drinker into a veritable sommelier. And this year there’s a little something for everyone, even those who couldn’t tell the difference between a full–bodied merlot and a well–aged Shiraz.
Thanks to some local culinary celebrities and Marlin Monroe’s extremely popular Surfside Grill, this year’s Tybee Wine Festival promises to focus as much on the coastal dishes of the South as it does on the exquisite wines that pair so naturally with them.
Unfortunately, creating the perfect seafood recipe, for some, is about as easy as catching the fish yourself –– which is why the kick–off event of the week is the Tybee Wine Festival Seafood School hosted by the Tybee Lite Shrine Club on April 12 at 11:30 a.m.
Guest stars include Martha Nesbit, seasoned food writer and author of three Savannah cookbooks, Damon Fowler, culinary director of Kitchenware Outfitters, and Bonnie Gaster, affectionately known as “Tybee’s Seafood Diva” and self–proclaimed author of Savannah’s best Gumbo recipe, all of whom are ready and willing to share their favorite dishes and trade secrets with you.
Once the lucky guests have mastered fowler’s coveted Sherried Shrimp or Nesbit’s mouth–watering pan–fried flounder, they’ll get a rare opportunity to sample all of the demonstrated recipes during an exclusive tasting–luncheon.
From the heart of Daufuskie Island to the beaches of Tybee, the best part of drinking good wine is eating great food. But if drinking good wine sounds more appealing than say, shucking an oyster, you still don’t have to steer clear of April 13’s Wine and Oyster tasting at Marlin Monroe’s on Butler Avenue, 6–8 p.m.
Some of Savannah’s most popular seafood dishes heavily rely on the shrimp, a la Shrimp and Grits, but the oyster is what many seafood connoisseurs consider to be the most versatile shellfish of them all. Raw, Rockefeller, fried, or grilled, you’ll taste all of the ways this little Savannah delicacy is prepared and paired with the best wines of the season, the perfect way to transition into the main event of the Festival.
The Grand Wine Tasting, easily the main attraction, begins at 2 p.m. on April 14 and highlights the Tybee Island Restaurants that make this surfside town such a rich culinary destination. The Tybee Island Social Club, Fannie’s on the Beach, Sundae Cafe, Sting Ray’s Seafood, and many more, will offer tastings of international wines, craft beers, and small snacks from their menus.
Set on the Tybee Island Lighthouse grounds, guests will spend three hours mingling and tasting while enjoying live music courtesy of Julie Wilde and the Bohemian Dream Band and Island favorites, Marshall, Tanner and Gill.
Save room for the following day’s wrap–up Champagne Brunch. Sunday is all about decadence, with a an extraordinary champagne tasting and dainty brunch–time dishes such as Baked Eggs with Cheese and Chives and fresh baked sour cream pound cake.
The Tybee Wine Festival may be a celebration of good food and good wine, but the location, and the cool–island breezes, really pulls the event together. “The lighthouse grounds are the perfect backdrop for this spring event,” says event organizer Cindy Meyer.
With summer right around the corner, there’s no better way to welcome the sun and the height of spring–time, but tickets may be hard to come by as more Savannahians catch wind of this fantastic event.
Seafood School is already sold out, but you can reserve your spot for the remaining three events by reserving online calling 912–663–1099. Tickets prices range from $35–$50 depending on the event, but don’t be afraid to ask about combination tickets and member discounts when you make your reservations.
It’s only four years old, but the Tybee Wine Festival is quickly becoming a Savannah tradition. Bring a seafood bib if you must, but certainly find out why Tybee Island is the South’s newest destination for fine wines and the best gumbo you can get your hands on.
Tybee Wine Festival
When: April 12–15