Savannah Announces Food & Wine Festival

Staff Writer
Expanding on its annual Taste of Savannah event, the city will host a weeklong festival.

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Food lovers will stroll the historic squares canopied with Spanish moss as they hop to the different restaurants and booths in the Food & Wine Festival this November.

Atlanta, Charleston, and Asheville have represented the South thus far with their Food & Wine festivals. Now, Savannah is entering the ring November 11-17 to celebrate its best food and wine.

“Over the last few years, we’ve elevated our efforts to market Savannah as an emerging foodie destination,” Joe Marinelli of Visit Savannah told Savannah Morning News. “With so many fine established, go-to restaurants, and the recent influx of a number of dynamic young chefs, Savannah’s popularity for culinary tourism continues to grow.”

Restaurants throughout historic and downtown Savannah will participate every day of the festival with special dinners and wine tastings.

The 13th annual Taste of Savannah is the central hub of the festival on November 16. Based in Ellis Square, it will include wine booths, music, and competitions for chefs, bartenders, and wait staff. 

Also during the weeklong festival, there will be a Celebrity Chef Tour by the James Beard Foundation on November 13 and a River Street Wine Stroll on the waterfront on November 15.

Michael Owens, president and CEO of the Tourism Leadership Council, told Savannah Morning News that the goal is to create “something fun” that extends beyond the typical wine tasting and food sampling. Plans for family-friendly activities are in the works, “and we’re not talking about just throwing up a bounce house either,” he added.

The celebrity chefs for the event have not been revealed yet, but Owens and festival director Jan Gourley did admit there will be chefs known both regionally and nationally. Perhaps Paula Deen will make an appearance?

Fourth-generation Napa Valley winemaker Rob Mondavi Jr. will be the festival’s featured winemaker. He is the grandson of Robert Mondavi, the man who is attributed for putting Napa Valley on the wine map with the Robert Mondavi Winery.

“Savannah is one of the most charming cities with a deep history, Lowcountry cuisine, and gentle people,” Mondavi told Savannah Morning News. “My family and I are excited to bring our little part of Napa Valley to this great town, especially in its inaugural year.”

Mondavi will host a wine tasting and a silent auction, which should help draw more prominent winemakers.

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Tickets for the festival can be purchased online beginning July 1. Gourley said she predicts the Savannah Food & Wine Festival will become a “destination event” for food lovers.