2020 Schedule Live Now!

Charleston Wine + Food

Tasting Notes


Charleston Wine + Food Interns

From filling goodie bags to managing an event space, and from helping brew an original craft beer to curating Snapchat stories, my experience as a marketing + communications fellow at CHSWFF was nothing short of unique. My first day was spent at a photoshoot, poppin’ champagne and being a last minute addition to the portfolio-- stuffing my face with corn. #Glamorous. Needless to say, it was abundantly clear my experience wasn’t going to consist of your average intern duties. Although not everyday was full of bubbly, my role at CHSWFF was constantly evolving. I spent the summer drafting press releases and social media posts, but by spring, I was fielding phone calls and emails from influencers and managing the festival’s Industry Lounge onsite. I even transitioned from intern to instructor as the liaison between the festival and an undergraduate communications course at the College of Charleston. Throughout this experience, I was viewed as a solution rather than a tool. The responsibilities I was entrusted with provided me with an immeasurable level of professional growth, and I am grateful for the skills I developed through the opportunities this position provided me. Thanks for a one-of-a-kind experience, CHSWFF. Looking forward to seeing you pop the top off 2018!   See y’all in March! Brandy
Continue Reading

Continuing Education

Charleston Wine + Food strives to bring people together each year through storytelling and food. Continuing Education is a project that does just that. What started with a native strain of watermelon, The Bradford Watermelon, quickly created the opportunity for local chefs to meet local farmers. It is a project that allows those who attend to better understand where their produce is coming from while learning about produce native to South Carolina.   The first event took place on The Bradford family farm, where chefs and guests were taken through the fields to learn more about the Bradford Watermelon. After a quick demonstration they got to taste the produce and take home some of the sweet molasses made from the rhine of the watermelon. The second event of the project brought on a new group of chefs along with returners to go back to the Bradford family farm to learn more about the Carolina African Runner Peanut. This peanut was first used in soup by Africans in North America. This is the first year that this strand of peanut has been available to the public since the late 1920’s or early 1930’s.   This event allowed those who attended to see the smaller details, to better understand the time and effort it takes to revitalize a crop. Continuing Education gives local chefs and farmers a chance to meet, share stories and be creative.    SaveSave
Continue Reading

Food Rescue

Every year, Charleston Wine + Food strives to be better than we were before. Working with One80 Place has helped CHSWFF improve our impact on our community and our environment.   On average, One80 Place serves 175,000 meals from its community kitchen to shelter guests and local community members with a budget of $0. To make this happen, food is collected from local food drives and their food rescue truck that collects $330,000 worth of food from local grocery stores, restaurants, businesses, individuals.Last year, the food rescue truck was able to collect 3,128 lbs of food from the CHSWFF Culinary Village.   If you’re interested in donating food or would like to find more ways to help head over to One80 Place’s website!
Continue Reading

For She's a Jolly Good Fellow

The partnership between Charleston Wine + Food and College of Charleston is designed to give the student fellows a hands-on experience as an “agency of record” before beginning their careers as communication professionals. Since the class is split up into four cohorts, public relations, media relations, social media + creative, we are able to see firsthand how those teams work in tandem to achieve a cohesive campaign not unlike a real agency. As a member of the public relations team who had little PR experience before beginning this class, I now feel more comfortable in that sphere + more ready to dive into that world when I graduate. I’ve developed a great relationship with my team + the other cohorts and I feel that we’ve all worked very hard to turn out some meaningful + engaging products for the festival. From a personal standpoint, this fellowship has been one of the most beneficial opportunities of my college career. Food has been my passion ever since I was little; I voraciously consumed Food Network after school, and as I got older, I began to find recipes, bake for my family, and read pieces by food writers. Once I got to college, I began a student food publication on campus + began attending as many food events as I could, with one of them being Charleston Wine + Food. It was CHSWFF that made me really fall in love with food events, programming, and PR, so when the opportunity to be a student fellow came up, I jumped at it. It has truly been a delicious experience so far + I look forward to this next semester with the festival building meaningful programming and recounting the stories of our Lowcountry food systems for all to hear.
Continue Reading

CHSWFF Going Green

In the past decade, we’ve witnessed a stunning transition as corporate social responsibility evolved from a nice-to-have silo to a fundamental strategic priority for businesses large and small. “ - Forbes, 2017. At Charleston Wine + Food (CHSWFF), we believe that this trend stemmed from good people hoping to leave a positive, lasting impact on future generations. Some companies use their influence to support specific foundations, or advocate volunteer time to help those in need. Others enable positive change through food, combating poverty on a local/regional level. For other groups, climate change and sustainability have become an increasingly important initiative.   Companies and people alike are taking steps to reduce the amount of waste they produce and change the impact they have on the planet. In an attempt to join the global movement of going green, CHSWFF is taking a step back and looking at how we can provide a more eco friendly experience.   Event Director, Ali Bechtel, recently took time to talk to me about how CHSWFF is working to be more eco friendly during the  2018 festival, and it seems like we have found several ways to make our festival more environmentally friendly. We’ve developed a great relationship with VerTerra, a company that specializes in sustainable dinnerware, to supply compostable serving dishes and utensils. In the Culinary Village we also have “weigh stations,” or strategically positioned areas for all guests to throw out trash, recycling and compost in separate bins. Throughout the festival local, regional, national and international chefs are encouraged to use reusable or compostable materials and have compost bins at their workstations as well.   “Ultimately, CHSWFF hopes to inspire those at the festival and other festivals to have a great time, enjoying fantastic drinks, phenomenal food and all the while, become more eco friendly,” says Bechtel. “We’ve been inspired by progressive and sustainably-minded cities like Vancouver and Denver, and plan to work with the city + county of Charleston to create a sustainable festival guide for similar events of our scope to plan responsibly. This guide will likely include a list of local resources, insight into intuitive directional signage and how to communicate your efforts at scale.   For those who have tickets to our Culinary Village, this year we ask that while you enjoy all that the Village has to offer, and look out for our stations and the signs so you can toss your waste appropriately. If you have any questions our team members at the Village are more than willing to help!   Through working with the city, county and all those who make our festival possible (chefs, staff, attendees, etc), CHSWFF is looking to pave a more sustainable path for future festivals and leave our mark by not only connecting others, and sharing stories between sips of wine and bites of heart-filled cuisine, but through inspiring those around us to continue making a difference whenever we can.  
Continue Reading

Girl Power is the Best Power

  Charleston Wine + Food has really given me more than I could have ever asked for. Two years ago, I applied for the Charleston Wine + Food School of Business Scholarship after finding it on a long list of scholarships and realizing this was one I fit the bill for. When I found out that I received the scholarship, I was ecstatic. I got it right before going abroad, so once I got back to the U.S., my internship advisor at the College of Charleston connected me with Nysa, the Development Director, and I was hired as the Development Intern for the upcoming spring 2017.   Through being a scholarship recipient, I was able to begin my relationship with Charleston Wine + Food and get to know the organization that so graciously awarded me for my academic successes. I started my internship in the spring of 2017, and if you are not aware, the spring is a crazy time to jump into this process. I was there for just two months before the actual festival occurred. Even in those two months though, I learned and accomplished enough to make the completion of the festival feel so rewarding. Also, I loved working there so much that I decided to come back the following fall 2017.   Even though I was in the same internship role as I was in the spring, my responsibilities were very different, since the festival was not looming right in front of our faces. I worked backwards - working in the thick of the event for the first part of my internship and then on the behind-the-scenes part in the second part of my internship. Through my internship both semesters, I got to experience what it is like to strategically plan for a whole year to put on a festival that spans just five days. I have to say, seeing a year’s worth of planning come to life is one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced.   I not only learned how the world of development and partnerships operate, but I also learned what it’s like to be a part of an amazing team. Each person on the staff welcomed me with open arms and supported me throughout my internship. Charleston Wine + Food team- you set the bar really high for what I expect in an office culture from now on. Gillian Zettler, Executive Director, and her staff have taught me that girl power is the best power, and kindness is the key to life. Charleston Wine + Food has given me work + life skills to take with me as I move forward in my career. If it were not for the scholarship, I’m not sure I would have found this amazing opportunity, so for that, I am eternally grateful.
Continue Reading

Making an Impact

Charleston Wine + Food began with a mission in mind: give back to the Charleston area by shining a spotlight on the city’s culinary + hospitality community.   Thirteen years later, the Charleston Wine + Food festival continues to be a driver of success for the Holy City’s world-renowned food industry.   However, the buck doesn’t stop there.   The 2017 Charleston Wine + Food festival made quite an impression, pumping $9.6 million into Charleston’s local economy over five days.   Guests from around the world pour into the Lowcountry to take part in the festival, but the impact reaches outside of the tent walls of Marion Square’s Culinary Village.   Local hotels, restaurants and more open their doors to festival attendees, offering a unique experience for guests that brings them back year after year. Each hotel stay and dinner reservation contributes to the economic impact felt in the Charleston area.   Leon’s Oyster Shop and Little Jack’s Tavern owner Brooks Reitz echoed the importance of the festival to local restaurants when chatting about his latest venture, Melfi’s.   The restaurateur joked, “We have to have this restaurant opened by February! The festival has given a lot of support to what we’re trying to do here in Charleston. The work you guys do plays a role in the success of our restaurants.”   For Charleston area restaurants, the festival brings in an army of national media outlets who are critical to their success. Many owners rely on positive reviews and news stories to bring customers through their doors.   “It’s no coincidence we’ve planned our restaurant openings around festival time,” Reitz said. “The festival gets people excited about going to restaurants. They’re excited to try good food and check out what Charleston has to offer.”   As the 2018 Charleston Wine + Food festival begins to take shape, our biggest hope is to see the economic impact continue to grow.   With each year bringing new and exciting events to the festival’s lineup, more and more guests come to Charleston to experience our city’s vibrant culinary scene.   The festival kicks off springtime in the Lowcountry as people come out of their winter hibernation, ready to get out and explore new restaurants and old favorites.   The resulting impact extends outside of the five days of the festival, with Charleston Wine + Food leaving its mark 365 days a year.
Continue Reading

Lunch is Served

This year Charleston Wine + Food is starting the holiday season off with a 12 Days of Giving blog series highlighting our ties in the local community. To start off this series we first would like to highlight a recent team outing to One80 Place.   A few weeks ago six members of the Charleston Wine + Food team spent an afternoon with our friends at One80 Place to serve lunch to the guests of the shelter.   The One80 Place kitchen serves three meals a day totally approximately 170,000 meals to its clients and anyone who is hungry.   That day in the kitchen our team helped to serve 120 meals thanks to pizza donated from Whole Foods, along with fresh salad, warm bread + more. It was a truly enjoyable experience for the team to engage with the One80 Place staff and a great way to give back to our community and support the mission of One80 Place.   Interested in learning more about volunteering at One80 Place? Learn more here.
Continue Reading

Brunch, Please

Are you a pancake person or a waffle person? Savory or Sweet? Do you run to the mimosas or Bloody Marys? These are the ultimate questions of every brunch enthusiast. Nothing beats a late morning feast with the people who understand chicken on waffles is a necessity and pancakes without blueberries are almost unlawful.   Thankfully, Charleston has no shortage in brunch adventures to keep you happy and full all weekend long. Even better, Charleston Wine + Food is bringing Charleston’s brunch game to the next level with four festival events that satisfy all types of brunch goers.   For those looking to have a colorful + collaborative brunch experience #BRUNCHSQUAD is meant for you. Join the wonderful host Ellen Bennett of Hedley & Bennett, and her all-star chef co-hosts in a morning of prepping, making + enjoying a brunch that is sure to satisfy all of your brunch goals. Anyone looking for a soulful +  inspiring brunch, look no further than Harlem + Hominy. Take your time, sit back and relax while your tastebuds take you from Charleston to Harlem. A brunch event set among the oaks of Ashley Hall, each plate is full of soulful bites.   All the morning people out there, the loud + proud brunch goers, Queens on King is calling your name. Sip champagne and channel your inner diva with our guest Monica Van Pelt of Lips, Atlanta's Exclusive Show Palace for an early afternoon of entertainment you won’t forget. Calling all those looking for a southern + flavorful brunch, 1KEPT Breakfast is for you. Join executive chef Trey Dutton and his guest Allan Benton for this tasteful brunch. Filled with gourmet offerings, characteristic flavors along with cocktails and mimosas, this is morning worthy of waking up  for.  SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave
Continue Reading

From Playwright to Dinner Plates

Owning some of Charleston’s most popular restaurants wasn’t always in the game plan for restaurateur Brooks Reitz. Growing up, Reitz wanted to be a playwright. However, after having lunch with a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright he realized the stage wasn’t where he wanted to call home for the rest of his life.Reitz went back to the drawing board to figure out his next steps.   The Kentucky native had always had a passion for food and decided to move to Louisville to work in a new hotel opening in Kentucky’s largest city.There, Reitz worked his way up the ladder, eventually landing the role of general manager in the hotel’s restaurant. “Here I was at 23, running a restaurant,” Reitz said. “I had no idea what I was doing.”   Fast forward 6-8 years and Reitz is now one of the most recognizable names in the Charleston’s culinary scene.   Reitz has since grown his business into a small empire with a trio of restaurants- Leon’s Oyster Shop, Little Jack’s Tavern and Melfi’s (opening just in time for the 2018 Charleston Wine + Food festival)- delivering delicious menus that keep customers coming back time-and-time again.   Despite his success in the restaurant business, Reitz’s background in writing continues to play an integral role in the creation of his restaurants.   The design of Reitz’s restaurants are just as important as the food being served, with the restaurateur paying close attention to details in order to create a eating space that tells a story.   Take for example Little Jack’s Tavern: a casual chophouse on Upper King Street serving up steaks, salads and sandwiches.   “To create the concept for Little Jack’s, we came up with the story of a boxer called Jack,” Reitz recalled. “After leaving the boxing world, because he was so small for that arena, he moved to Charleston where he opened up a little, tin-roofed bar. That bar then eventually became a restaurant that was passed down through generations in Jack's family. We imagined what the restaurant might look like today after being passed through many hands, and that is what we executed in the design of Little Jack's.   The story of Little Jack runs through the restaurant’s decor with boxing memorabilia dotting the walls, creating a fun and laid back atmosphere that diners can enjoy while delving into one of Little Jack’s famous cheeseburgers.   The care Reitz puts into crafting each of his restaurants is a reflection of the dedication the restaurateur has towards his businesses and his customers. “At the end of the day, I don’t want to be the best restaurant,” Reitz said. “I just want to be people’s favorite restaurant.”   As we sit down to a plate of Leon’s chargrilled oysters paired with the restaurant’s Siam salad, we think he might just be onto something.
Continue Reading

Need Assistance?

We totally get it. The 2020 festival has a lot going on. Contact us to guide you through the ticketing process, answer any questions, and help point you in the right direction.


843 727 9998
635 Rutledge Avenue, Suite 101, Charleston, SC 29403