by Jeanne Craig | October 17, 2018

Seeing Red Wine Festival Serves Up What’s Fresh in Seaside

Chefs Jim Shirley and Zach Keaton will highlight fresh-from-the-Gulf seafood paired with world-class wines at their exclusive Gulf Coast-to-Table Dinner


Reds, whites and rosés will pop and flow during the Seeing Red Wine Festival in the iconic town of Seaside. Now in its 28th year and recognized by Fodor’s Travel as a Top-10 Can’t-Miss Fall Wine Festival, the four-day event draws food and wine lovers from around the world to the resort community on the Gulf Coast for the chance to sip and savor from a variety of international purveyors as well as the area’s top restaurants. The gourmet weekend, boasting more than 50 food and wine tents, takes place outdoors, throughout Downtown Seaside, from the amphitheater to the Artists’ Colony of Ruskin Place and along the beach.

Guests love to sip, savor and gather at Ruskin Place.

This year’s festival features The Gulf Coast-to-Table Dinner, an exclusive culinary highlight which will be held at Ruskin Place on Friday, November 9. Hosting the dinner along with longtime Seaside Chef Jim Shirley is Zach Keaton. Shirley, a trailblazer on the Seaside culinary scene, owns a number of award-winning restaurants in the area including the ever-popular Great Southern Cafe. Keaton, an Atlanta native, is chef de cuisine of Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar in Seaside, a relaxed bistro with an expansive terrace and sea views that specializes in seasonal Neapolitan-style food. Keaton has garnered attention for his creative use of local produce, meats and fish, and he believes in cooking with the freshest, high-quality ingredients.

The Seeing Red Wine Festival boasts more than 50 food and wine tents featuring local, national and international purveyors.

“I’m health-conscious,” says Keaton. “When I cook, I make sure I know where each ingredient comes from. My philosophy is fresh food is the best food. I want to show people that great food doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple dishes prepared with fresh ingredients can be as good as it gets.”

Keaton will demonstrate that philosophy for guests attending the Gulf Coast-to-Table Dinner. He hasn’t confirmed his additions to the menu yet, but chef says each course will celebrate what is available from local farmers and fishermen at that time.

Signature dishes from area restaurants will be a centerpiece of the weekend.

“I plan on having some form of crudo, if only to show how good the seafood in this area can be. We have fish that tastes amazing when served raw. Great fish doesn’t have to be battered. There will be a pasta course, too, to highlight what we can do with pasta when it’s prepared from scratch. And there will be fresh seasonal vegetables—butternut squash and others that are appropriate for a fall harvest dinner.”

For this special event, dishes will be paired with wines from the Tamber Bey Vineyards in California. Barry Waitte, the founder of Tamber Bey, will attend the dinner to share his passion for wine with guests.

Proceeds from Seeing Red Wine Festival will benefit the Seaside Neighborhood School, one of the oldest charter schools in the state.

The festival opens on Thursday, November 8, and runs through Sunday, November 11. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Seaside Neighborhood School. One of the oldest charter schools in the state, it addresses the need for better middle school education in Walton County.

“In 2018, we’re going to feature more than 120 wines that are paired with culinary selections from this area’s award-winning restaurants,” says Kevin Boyle, the events director for Seaside. “Our goal each year is to make the event better than ever.”

For more festival details and local accommodations visit