Because it's never too early to be thinking about the HHI Wine & Food Festival.
From a release:
"The 2013 Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival, presented by The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa is gearing up for the 28th Annual event which will be held March 4 – 9, 2013.
The Pre-Festival events taking place in January are 'Uncork' the Festival on Friday, January 25, 2013 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., on Hilton Head Island and the International Wine Judging and Competition, Saturday, January 26 and Sunday, January 27, 2013.
Uncork the Festival is scheduled for Friday, January 25, 2013 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., location yet to be confirmed, is fashioned after another popular wine activity founded by the Wall Street Journal, Tastings wine columnists called Open That Bottle Night.
'Most of us have a special bottle of wine, champagne or spirits tucked away in a closet or in the back of the refrigerator. The bottle is special because of who gave it to us, or why they gave it to us, or why we bought it. The originators of Open That Bottle Night realized that we all have such bottles, but we never find just the right occasion to open them up and enjoy the contents,' says Jeff Gerber, HHI Wine & Food Festival board member.
This year’s Uncork the Festival will include a lively Grape Stomping Competition, with an 'I Love Lucy' look-alike contest. To kick-off the 2013 event, the organizers of the Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival are inviting members of the public to reserve a space at this exclusive, limited ticket event and to bring their special bottle(s) of wine to taste with their friends and other attendees. In addition, attendees will receive a souvenir glass, select winery tasting and delectable hors d’oeuvres. Tickets for Uncork the Festival are $35 and will be available on-line December 1, 2012.
The winning poster in the student poster competition will also be unveiled at Uncork the Festival. The winning student entry will be awarded a $300 1st Prize, $125 2nd prize and $75 3rd prize, along with tickets to the Saturday Festival. Attendees will also be able to rub elbows with the esteemed panel of Judges for the 2013 International Wine Judging & Competition, which takes place on Saturday, January 26 and Sunday, January 27, 2013 at The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa. The Judging event is not open to the public, but the expert Judges will be on hand to share their wine wisdom and stories with the public at Uncork the Festival.
In a field of many wine and food festivals produced in the United States a limited few incorporate an international judging component as part of their activities. A unified online wine entry process (Enofileonline.com) allows the Festival to market its wine competition to wineries, vineyards and distributors internationally and nationally, more efficiently online. Wine entries are accepted online beginning November 15, 2012 for $39 per entry through December 31, 2012; $45 per entry through January 14, 2013; January 15 – 22, 2013, $50 per entry; wine entry products must be received by January 22, 2013 to be judged in competition.
The 2012 Festival received approximately 1,000 entries in the Wine Competition. Approximately 20 professional and accredited wine judges participated, including Master Sommelier, Brett Davis from Kentucky, who earned his Master Sommelier diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2009 making him one of only 129 in North America and 197 worldwide to earn this title. The entire panel of Judges will put their expert knowledge and comprehensive understanding of wines to work at the International Wine Judging and Competition.
- January 25, 2013 - 'Uncork' the Festival, 5:30-7:30 p.m.; Tickets are $35 per person
- January 26 – 27, 2013 - International Wine Judging & Competition (not open to the public)
- March 4 - 9, 2013 - Great Chefs of the South Wine Dinners; Various locations throughout Hilton Head Island, restaurants and details will be found online as confirmed, prices start from $75+ per person.
- Friday, March 8, 2013 - Grand Wine Tasting & Silent Auction, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., Sea Pines Country Club with gate pass included in ticket price, a premium wine tasting with gourmet appetizers and Silent Auction offering premium wine lots; Tickets are limited for this event, $80 per person in advance through February 14, 2013; $90 February 15 – March 8, 2013.
- Saturday, March 9, 2013 - Wine & Food Festival and Silent Auction; Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn; Advance Discount Tickets are $39.99 available online until December 31, 2012; $45 available online until March 8, 2013; $50 available at the gate. Active military and their spouses are half-price at the gate with appropriate military ID. Attendees at the Saturday event will sample a wide assortment of wines, witness competitive culinary events and enjoy gourmet treats and live music. The Silent Auction features a large selection of wines, including one-of-a-kind wine competition entries.
New This Year! Grape Stomping Competition at Uncork the Festival – Friday, March 8, 2013. A fun and lively competition that brings out the best of 'I Love Lucy' in everybody – contest will include a Lucy look-alike contest.
New events on Saturday, March 9, 2013: Artisan Market – A gourmand market featuring unique foods, arts & crafts, wine and Lowcountry specialty items - everything from Art League of Hilton Head Island artist exhibition, olive oils and cheeses, to unique artwork and hand-made wine gift items. Wines to Vines – A series of wine educational speakers and panel discussions that will cover various wine related topics on March 9, 2013. Lunch & Learn Series – A series of educational and fun luncheons featured the week of March 4 – 9, 2013 Great Chefs of the South Wine Dinners.
There are many special Wine & Food Festival Accommodations Packages available for all budgets, from the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa and more which can be found on the website at, www.hiltonheadwineandfood.com. The Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival in a non-profit 501-(c)3, with proceeds from its Silent Auctions benefiting educational opportunities for students in the Hospitality management programs of study at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and the Technical College of the Lowcountry through the John F. and Valerie Curry scholarship fund."