South Walton’s Wine Culture Second To None

For Chan Cox, wine is about more than just rosé, chardonnay, pinot noir and merlots. It’s about building something special.

“It’s not just about what’s in the bottle,” says Cox, who owns and operates Chan’s Wine World, The Wine Bar and The Craft Bar locations along the Panhandle. “It’s a geography lesson, it’s educational – it’s a culture and a lifestyle.”

Wine lovers find fertile ground for relaxation in South Walton, where sugar white sands and turquoise waters provide the perfect backdrop to sip and savor incredible wines from around the world.

From large festivals to intimate dinners, wine related festivities dot the event calendars throughout the year in South Walton. For more than three decades, South Walton’s wine community has continually grown, which is exactly what long-time businessman Chan Cox envisioned when he started the Sandestin Wine Festival more than 30 years ago.  

Fast forward to today and there are festivals throughout the year, from the 30A Wine Festival and the Seeing Red Wine Festival to the South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival and Rosemary Beach Uncorked.

Cox is quick to say that the South Walton wine culture “compares favorably to anywhere else in the nation,” and coming from someone who has traveled extensively throughout the United States and abroad, that’s saying something.

South Walton’s relationship with wine may have started from humble beginnings, but these days it’s big business that draws hundreds of thousands of wine lovers to visit each year. These events are more than just excuses to raise a glass and toast the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico, they are educational experiences.

“People can come out and learn more about the wines, try different wines and see what they really like and what they don’t like,” Cox says. “We want to provide fun and entertainment, but we also want there to be an educational component.”

It’s not uncommon to see, and even interact with, well known wine personalities while attending a local event. The likes of Justin Baldwin (Justin wine), David Duncan (Silver Oak Cellars), and Cristina Mariani-May (Banfi) participate in South Walton’s wine festivities.

But that certainly doesn’t mean that local events are stuffy, boring or tailored only to the super sophisticated palate.

“It really doesn’t matter what level of wine enjoyment you appreciate,” Cox will tell you, “we have it here.”




Don’t Miss These Annual South Walton Wine Festivals:

Harvest Wine and Food Festival: Oct. 25-27, 2018

Seeing Red Wine Festival: Nov. 8-11, 2018

30A Wine Festival: Feb. 20-24, 2019

Sandestin Wine Festival: April 11-14, 2019

South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival: April 25-28, 2019


To see a full list of South Walton’s events and happenings, go to



About South Walton

A 26-mile stretch of sparkling white sand located along the Gulf of Mexico in Northwest Florida, South Walton encompasses a strand of 16 beach neighborhoods, each with unique personality, architecture and energy. South Walton is home to four state parks, one state forest, and more than 200 miles of hiking and biking trails. Find your perfect beach in neighborhoods renowned for scenic beauty, sugar-white sand beaches and turquoise water. South Walton was named one of the “Secret Florida Beaches” by Travel + Leisure, but is easily accessible as a drive to destination or by flying to nearby airports Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) or the Destin – Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS). An upscale, yet casual place to unwind, South Walton rejuvenates and builds lasting memories.
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