On the breeze of an early evening in the early spring, the Hilton Head Wine & Food Festival will host its annual Sip & Stroll from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27, in the lovely plaza amid The Shops at Sea Pines Center.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

Sip & Stroll is part of a weeklong series of events that make up the festival, the relaxed mid-week interlude.

“It’s an especially lovely time of day in that setting,” said festival Executive Director Jeff Gerber. “The Shops at Sea Pines Center have really welcomed us with open arms.”

The perfect vibe for sipping and strolling is provided by the sights and sounds of local artists and musicians.

Local Fun and Philanthropy

Local boutiques and restaurants make The Shops at Sea Pines Center a drawing card for the festival’s national following.

“We provide scholarships for deserving students at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and at Technical College of the Lowcountry in their hospitality management and culinary programs, so ‘local’ is vitally important to us.”

Over the past 10 years, the Hilton Head Wine & Food Festival has raised more than $144,000 for scholarships, and a few years ago, the festival made a $20,000 donation to TCL to help build a new kitchen for its culinary program.

A Week-Long Festival

Since the festival began, the celebration has grown in 39 years from a modest, one-day, three-hour tasting in a parking lot to a whole week of culinary and social enjoyment, embracing events that range from cozy comfort to glittering glamor. The audience of people who make a point of taking part has grown, too, from Hilton Head Island insiders to wine lovers from across the country and around the world.

The largest of the seven Festival events, the Public Tasting, will unfold at Celebration Park from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, featuring more than 250 wines from all over the world. Once known simply as “WineFest” (and still called that by many longtime Islanders), the Public Tasting will also feature live entertainment, chefs in action, as well as tastings of craft beer and spirits. A silent auction will benefit the John and Valerie Curry Scholarship Fund.

For Beer Lovers, Too

Craft Beers at the Beach is the title and the vibe of an event that was added to the festival two years ago, and is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 24, oceanfront at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa. The burgeoning craft beer scene around Hilton Head served as the inspiration – and the source – for what has become one of the festival’s favorite events. Beer aficionados can enjoy the afternoon by tasting more than 50 offerings from multiple local and regional craft breweries – maybe finding a new favorite!

Selling Out Soon

Rounding out the week’s festivities are two other popular events that tend to sell out early (so if you haven’t booked your tickets yet, be sure to do so soon!).

Thursday’s Stay Gold: A Lowcountry Wine, Food, and Music Experience at Lucky Beach Bar + Kitchen is a tasting featuring double-gold wines from the international judging competition, paired with Lowcountry cuisine; and the incredibly popular Grand Tasting, considered the pinnacle of the week’s events, features award-winning wines from the international judging competition, as well as top wines from the festival’s wine partners. This year’s Grand Tasting, scheduled for Friday, March 29, is hosted by the Country Club of Hilton Head – a most elegant setting for a most elegant event.

A Faithful Following

“The festival certainly has built a faithful following over the years,” Jeff said. “Fresh locations, new exhibitors, new entertainment, and the wholehearted way our community pitches in – they all came together again to attract a sell-out level of interest again for March. We’re excited to be back, and we’re grateful.”

The Shops at Sea Pines Center are delighted to once again be selected as the setting that sets the tone for this longstanding Hilton Head Island tradition.