Spanish Wine Festival not just for aficionados

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The 2015 St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival will return for the fourth year Sept. 9-12 with more Spanish wine, food, history, music, dance and fun.

Following the Kick Off Luncheon honoring current and past participants in the Fresh Starts program, Vino Veritas will bring internationally renowned Spanish wine and food experts to St. Augustine to introduce exceptional tapas and reserve vintage Spanish wine. The festival will offer one-on-one conversation with some of the most knowledgeable experts on the planet.

The annual Cava Reception and Dinner is widely regarded as the St. Augustine social event of the season, and the Grand Tasting and Batalla de Vino offer the widest variety of Spanish wines in North America and the perfect way to ruin a white outfit — respectively. Since its inception in 2012, the festival has sold out every event, attracting Spanish wine enthusiasts from Europe, South America and across the United States. Promoting St. Augustine’s history as the first permanent European settlement in North America, the festival features Spanish nationals who share traditional and contemporary trends in winemaking and cuisine. No food or wine question is too simple or complex and all are welcome.

Five events over four days serve local charities

One hundred percent of ticket revenues are distributed to local charities. This year’s beneficiaries are Fresh Starts (transitioning homeless from the streets to paying jobs), TAG Children’s Museum (inspiring children in a learning environment) and Catholic Charities (feeding local families crippled by health issues and loss of income). Since 2012, the St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival has donated nearly $140,000 to charity. This year’s charity goal is $100,000. For information and to purchase tickets, go to SpanishWineFestival.com.

2015 SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Sept. 9

Kick-Off Luncheon

When: noon to 1:30 p.m.

Where: First Coast Technical College

Cost: $25 for advance tickets; no ticket sales at door

Recommended Dress: Business casual

The St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival week will launch with this Spanish-inspired lunch created by students from First Coast Technical College’s Culinary Arts Program. The meticulously prepared lunch features four courses. Throughout the lunch, guests have the opportunity to meet and talk to the chefs, students and community members.

Sept. 10

Vino Veritas

When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: The Treasury on the Plaza (Downtown St. Augustine)

Cost: $50 advance ticket, $75 at the door (space permitting)

Recommended Dress: St. Augustine Chic

Vino Veritas will feature outstanding Spanish food and tapas from every region of Spain, prepared and served by eight of the finest restaurants in St. Johns County. Authentic Spanish guitar music will be played by professionals.

Sept. 11

Cava Reception & Dinner

When: 6 to 10 p.m.

Where: Mission Nombre de Dios (Under a big air conditioned tent.)

Cost: Advance sales only: $125 per person, $1,200 for tables of 8, $1200 and $1,500 for tables of 10

Recommended Dress: Cocktail attire: Jacket (men), dress/pant suit (women)

The Cava Reception & Dinner will offer an elegant evening with authentic live Spanish music and dance, five-course Spanish dinner paired with exquisite Spanish wines and fireworks. The evening will begin with cavas and Spanish-inspired hors d’ oeuvres. It will then transition into a sit-down dinner where each course is served with a different Spanish wine. The night will be filled with flavor and fun. Each guest receives a commemorative wine glass.

Sept. 12

Grand Tasting

When: 1 to 3 p.m.

Where: Mission Nombre de Dios (Under a big air conditioned tent.)

Cost: $50 advance ticket; $75 at the door (space permitting)

Recommended Dress: Casual

The Grand Tasting will provide the opportunity to sample more than 125 different Spanish wines, which is the largest collection of Spanish wines on display in America. The event also features samplings of Spanish-inspired hors d’ oeuvres. Each guest will receive a laser etched commemorative glass.

Team Batalla De Vino 5:30 to 6 p.m. Mission

When: 5:30 to 6 p.m.

Where: Batalla Arena on the grounds of Mission Nombre de Dios

Cost: $250 donation for teams of five

Recommended Dress: White

The batalla begins with a team competition where each team’s goal is to protect the king or queen. Each team of five (over the age of 21) will try to get the king or queen of the other teams as red with wine as possible while protecting its own king or queen. The team with the whitest-clothed king or queen at the end of the competition wins. The winning team will receive $500 for the local charity of their choice.

Grand Batalla De Vino

When: 6 to 7 p.m.

Where: Batalla Arena on the grounds of Mission Nombre de Dios

Cost: $10 advance, $20 at the door (space permitting)

Recommended Dress: White

This is the biggest wine fight in American history where squirting wine on strangers is the name of the game. Join up to 2,000 participants willing to wear white and be squirted with red wine while decorating the white clothing of others. Wine squirters are provided to each participant.