Tickets are on sale now for South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival, taking place April 28 – May 1, 2016, with another prestigious lineup of celebrity winemakers.

Personifying the new age of French winemaking, Ronan Laborde, CEO of Château Clinet Pomerol, will join an A-list of celebrities throughout the wine and culinary industry world, who will wine, dine and entertain as part of the four-day celebration of wine. Wine superstar Cristina Mariani-May, Family Proprietor and co-CEO of Banfi Vintners, is among the other notable headliners at the annual event, which takes place in Grand Boulevard outside Sandestin.

“We are honored Ronan Laborde is joining us for his first-time visit to the beaches of South Walton and bringing his fresh perspective, deep passion and exciting new wines,” said South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival founder Chan Cox.

After earning a degree at the EDC business school in Paris, Ronan Laborde’s father, Jean-Louis Laborde, entrusted the young trailblazer with managing the family wine estate beginning with the 2004 vintage. He was just 23 years old.

He brought his business savvy, energy, and modern vision and it soon elevated the brand and yielded bottom line results. Today, Château Clinet has grown in both size and stature into an award winning, highly rated and respected wine brand.

Ronan Laborde
Ronan Laborde

“We produce 45,000 bottles a year, which is very small in the wine world, so what we bring is quality maybe some would say luxury,” said Ronan Laborde during a telephone interview from his offices in Pomerol, France. “Château Clinet has a longtime history, but also modernity.”

This “Pomerol powerhouse” has made an obvious impact during his 12 year tenure as CEO — he has grown the staff from four to a team of nearly 20 specialized professional roles, expanded the vineyards, added business partners to increase wine production, built a modern new production facility (in the midst of traditional stone chateaus) not to mention adding new products, such as a balsamic vinegar that should be ready for release in 2018. Despite his many successes, Laborde is quick to credit the 400-plus year old terroir — a complex blend of gravel, clay and iron rich sandy soils — with giving Château Clinet wines its award-winning character and complexity.

“My meaning of terroir is very great … it is the sub soil, soil, wine, air and weather, know-how of the people. It is many things,” Ronan explained. “So the quality of our wine reflects the quality of the grape — it is fruit forward, very complex and ages very well.”

Larborde, who says he is “manic” about a few things — namely being orderly, health-conscious and ensuring things are done well, is eager to make to his first visit to “beautiful North Florida” to share his new Ronan by Clinet wine and others and to connect with “like-minded” wine lovers. He says wine brings people together, because it can “help people talk” by serving as an introduction. But beyond the social aspect and the technical side of wine and wine making, for Laborde there is perhaps the best part — the joy of wine tasting.

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Celebration_resized-2South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival will showcase more than 800 domestic and imported wines of which gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded in approximately 80 wine categories, selected by a panel of 24 industry judges during a blind tasting competition held in February.

In addition to two days of wine tastings, wine lovers will be treated to food tastings, informative seminars, live entertainment and special features such as the lively Spirits Row and Champagne Lane, featuring floating bubbles and dozens of Champagnes and sparkling wines.

The Destin Charity Wine Auction, one of the nation’s top 10 wine auctions, takes place on Saturday during the festival with more than 500 patrons bidding on luxury travel packages, collectable wines and other fine living lots.

Monies raised at the auction as well as proceeds from the festival go to support more than a dozen children’s charities in Northwest Florida.

jwi-83_resized-1024x683“This festival celebrates diversity and we will have something for everyone,” said Chan Cox, festival founder and owner of Wine World. “The best wines, an amazing culinary village, celebrity winemakers and chefs, craft beer and spirits, not to mention many experts in their field will join us at a beautiful location in Grand Boulevard.”

For more info, visit South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival.