The Hilton Head Food and Wine Festival’s six days of events presented by Publix will begin on Monday, March 7th, and continue until Saturday, March 12th. The festival is a highly anticipated celebration of Hilton Head’s exquisite wine and dining community, as well as a yearly opportunity to support deserving students in Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management educational programs.

For 31 years, the festival has served as a beacon for the community creating a unique opportunity for winebibbers and foodies to gather together. The event has arguably the best mix of local participants and tourists due to the unique schedule of events and its proximity to the Heritage Classic. This year, the main events will be hosted at The Sea Pines Resort’s Harbour Town Yacht Basin. 

Each day of the week presents a new headline event and is a yearly favorite to some festival-goers. Film buffs enjoy the Wine & Cinema event, while wine enthusiasts relish the opportunity to visit with Rudy Buratti on our home soil.

Monday kicks off the festival with Wine & Cinema, featuring, “The Year of the Comet” at Custom Audio Video in Bluffton. A variety of wines will be available for the attendees to enjoy before and during the intermission of the movie. There will also be a selection of heavy appetizers and desserts so that guests will enjoy a total culinary experience while they watch the film.

Next, Tuesday offers the “Zing” Food and Wine Together crash course on how to successfully pair food and wine. The course introduces the chemistry behind why some pairings work, and why some do not work as well. This sells out each year and is a favorite among our local wine connoisseurs.

Another highlight is Wednesday's Wine Maker for a Day. Attendees will have the opportunity to make their very own wine using what they have learned throughout the day. In the end, the blends will be judged, and one person will be crowned Wine Maker for a Day.

Thursday features the “Sip and Stroll” event, giving guests the opportunity to walk along Hilton Head's Harbour Town Yacht Basin, experiencing local shops, cuisines, and the breathtaking atmosphere. The backdrop of the lighthouse makes for some nice photo opportunities.

Friday represents the Food and Wine Festival’s Premier event: The Grand Tasting. At this highly anticipated gathering, attendees are given the rare opportunity to sample over 100 high-end varieties of wine and an array of light hors d’oeuvres. Earlier, those the special Knowledge Session with Rudy Buratti, the famed head winemaker for Castello Banfi. This is  something quite special, a Brunello tasting featuring barrel samples, unreleased wines, current releases, older vintage - all while learning about these special wines with the man who made them.

Saturday’s final event is the largest of the festival: The Public Tasting. It is sort of the big party that caps off the week. Over 250 types of wine are onsite, and there is a chef competition - the Sysco Outdoor Gourmet Challenge - and a Waiter’s Race. During Friday and Saturday, special auctions will be conducted to benefit local students in creating collegiate scholarships.

It's easy to overlook the entire event is a nonprofit which seeks to provide opportunities for local students attending USCB and TCL in related fields. But those that know the event well know that is the reason for it, and the wine is a bonus. That's probably why so many volunteers help from our community to staff the festival. Whether from Hilton Head, local environs, or afar, year-in-and-year-out the Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival is a favorite of The Men that Dine from New York, through the Forbes office, and down through the Keys.

More info can be found online at


The Hilton Head Food and Wine Festival began 31 years ago as a humble 3-hour wine tasting event. It is now one of South Carolina’s most prestigious destinations for wine enthusiasts around the world, judging over 850 wines this year alone. This success has extended the festival’s ability to make a difference in the food and wine community. Hilton Head Food and Wine Festival’s non-profit branch is dedicated to assisting students in their educational needs, having donated over $30,000 in scholarships since 2013. 

Posted by Paige Rose on


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