3 Reasons to Experience the Spanish Wine Festival
By Joseph Boles, president of the St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival Board of Directors
The St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival, presented by Wells Fargo, began in 2012 as part of St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary in an effort to unite St. Augustine with its Spanish history and heritage. The festival has now become a lasting, much-anticipated tradition in America’s first city, and it will be here once again February 15-17, 2019. On behalf of the St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival Board of Directors, I invite you to join us for another memorable festival that will go down in the history books, especially since this year’s festival celebrates the 500th birthday of Pedro Menéndez, St. Augustine’s founder.
This year’s three-day festival kicks off on February 15 with the Cava Reception and Dinner at the Flagler College Solarium, 74 King Street, from 6-10 p.m. The Solarium, perched atop Ponce de Leon Hall, is a stunning, uniquely domed, Gilded Age venue that overlooks the college and downtown St. Augustine where Henry Flagler’s hotel guests once frequented. During the Cava Reception and Dinner, an elegant dinner awaits, where each course is paired with a Spanish wine.
The festival continues on February 16 with a new event, Wine and Dine, at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre Front Porch, 1340C A1A South, from 4-7 p.m. At Wine and Dine, Spanish wine will be paired with American food truck cuisine. Participating food trucks include Sporks Food Truck, Fried Chicken Kitchen and more. A local favorite band, RAMONA, will perform on the front porch stage, amidst the oaks surrounding the amphitheatre.
The festival concludes on February 17 with the Grand Tasting at the River House, 179 Marine Street, from 2-5 p.m. This longstanding, traditional event at the festival features more than 100 Spanish wines accompanied by hors d'oeuvres. Also, solo guitarist Dennis Fermin of Fermin Spanish Guitar will perform at the Grand Tasting.
The various events of the festival offer something for every Spanish wine enthusiast. It’s an event you don’t want to miss. Here are my top three reasons to experience this year’s St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival.
1. It’s one of a kind!
St. Augustine is the only destination in the United States that brings together Spanish wine, history, heritage and authenticity. St. Augustine is a city of many firsts, and this is also true when it comes to the St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival. St. Augustine is one of the first cities in the United States to offer a wine festival where all of the wines served to guests are from Spain. St. Augustine is the perfect location to host the festival because its beginnings are rooted in Spanish heritage.
Did you know that when Pedro Menéndez arrived in Florida and founded St. Augustine more than 450 years ago, the survival provisions onboard his ship included Spanish wine? This is true because water spoiled while being transported on the ship and wine did not.
Now, Spanish wine is just as significant today as it was when the early Spanish explorers came to America. History, heritage and authenticity blend together to make the flavors of the St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival one of a kind. So, make America’s first city your next destination during the St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival weekend.
The St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival is all about Spanish wine! Who doesn’t enjoy a glass or two of fine wine, especially Spanish wine? The festival is the perfect opportunity to taste, test and explore Spanish wine amidst the beauty of old St. Augustine. At the festival’s Grand Tasting, more than 100 Spanish wines will be available to taste as our wine experts share interesting details with you about each wine.
The Spanish wines will be complemented with Spanish-inspired hors d'oeuvres and music. Also, when you find your perfect Spanish wine at the Grand Tasting, you can order that wine by the bottle through Broudy's Fine Wine and Spirits to later enjoy among friends or simply in the comfort of your own home.
3. Giving Back
The St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival benefits local charities. I am proud to share that since the wine festival began, more than $325,000 has been raised by the festival and donated to local charities. Each year, charities are selected to benefit from the proceeds of the festival, and this year’s organizations are Flagler College's Hospitality and Tourism Management Program, St. Johns County Council on Aging, HorsePlay Therapy Center, and SAiRA Foundation.
St. Augustine is the ideal location for Flagler College’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Program. This college program is career-focused, offers a complementary blend of hospitality and business concepts, and is structured around a practical application of hospitality and tourism business principles. The festival will be an educational experience where students within the program will help organize event details and also serve during the Cava Reception and Dinner.
The St. Johns County Council on Aging leads and advocates for the dignity, independence, health and community involvement of our older St. Johns County residents. The St. Johns County Council on Aging is the host of the Grand Tasting, which will take place at the council’s picturesque venue that overlooks the Matanzas River.
HorsePlay Therapy Center provides children with special needs a foundation for developing life skills that improve their overall quality of life through the use of equine assisted physical, occupation and speech therapies in a safe and caring environment.
The SAiRA Foundation supports workers primarily within the hospitality industry in times of extreme need and promotes hospitality-based education. The SAiRA Foundation is hosting Spanish wine restaurant tastings as part of the festival.
By attending the festival, you have the opportunity to enjoy Spanish wine, while also supporting the valiant efforts of non-profit organizations in our community, so your patronage goes a long way. Thank you in advance for making a difference to those in the St. Augustine and St. Johns County community.
Have I piqued your interest to join us for this year’s St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival? I sure hope so! To find out more about the festival and to purchase tickets, visit www.spanishwinefestival.com.
Thank you to our 2019 festival sponsors for making it possible for the festival to continue year after year. Thank you to Wells Fargo for being the presenting sponsor every year since the festival began. Additionally, we are grateful for the support of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits for providing all of the wine at the festival. We also appreciate the support of the St. Johns County Tourism Development Council, Marsh Partners, Historic Tours of America, St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, Friends of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and Broudy's Fine Wine and Spirits.
See you at the festival. Cheers!
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