Jekyll Island may be one Georgia's smaller barrier islands, but this destination is big on things to do, offering everything from historic districts to miles of pristine beaches. Outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts gravitate here to see the unique maritime forest ecology. In fact, more than 1,000 acres of the island is covered by lush maritime forests. Anyone interested in the history of the island should visit the Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District which sprawls over 240 acres and includes more than 30 historic buildings.
Whiskey Wine & Wildlife is one of Georgia’s top food and wine tasting experiences, and it will take place February 8-11 at The Westin Jekyll Island. Attendees will encounter a showcase of the Southern United States' finest spirits, beers, wines, and meals. This year’s event will include a variety of the top culinary talent in the region such as David Carrier (St. Simons Island), Tom Gray, and Kenny Gilbert (both from Jacksonville). On the wine and spirits side of the event, patrons will be able to take seminars and classes from Kevin Ryan (Brewmaster for Service Brewing), Michael McNeill (Georgia's First Master Sommelier), and more. Attendees will have the opportunity to attend a variety of unique eating and tasting experiences ranging from a wine cruise around the island to the main event which features tastings, samplings, music, and more. The event’s proceeds will go to the Jekyll Island Foundation. This organization is devoted to raising funds for the conservation and preservation of Jekyll Island. We interviewed Event Representative Jan Gourley to learn more about this can't miss showcase of Southern spirits and cuisine.
RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.
JG: Whiskey, Wine & Wildlife is a culinary destination event on historic and beautiful Jekyll Island. It’s a weekend long, boutique event that keeps growing every year with additional activities and attendance.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
JG: This is the third year, and the event was recently awarded a Top 20 Event for 2018 by the Southeast Tourism Association.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
JG: We typically see around 3,000 participants.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
JG: It’s a 21 and older event, usually consisting of groups of couples, girl’s getaways, guy’s golf getaways, and others.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
JG: The event is oceanfront at the host hotel, The Westin Jekyll Island and benefits the Jekyll Island Foundation – which showcases island wildlife, historic and wildlife preservation through interactive encounters with the weekend’s events.
RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?
JG: Guests will enjoy an all-inclusive experience complete with a souvenir glass for unlimited food and beverage tastings – whiskeys, spirits, wines, and beers.
RAL: Tell us about the activities.
JG: Here is a list:
Culinary Stage Presentations and Demos
Wildlife Encounters and Demonstrations
Master Classes in Intimate Settings with Master Sommeliers, Master Distillers, Master Brewers, Celebrity Chefs and More
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
JG: We have a variety of unique dining events around the festival such as the Wine Dinner with guest chefs and Master Sommelier, Michael McNeill – Georgia’s only MS.
RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up for the event?
JG: Yes, all of our accommodations partners have specials for the weekend – please check out the accommodations page on our website.
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
JG: It has become Jekyll Island’s signature culinary event and one of the Golden Isles most upscale culinary events.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
JG: Yes, the event is responsible for over $3 million in economic impact in new spending for the island and the Golden Isles.
RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?
JG: Yes, the Jekyll Island Foundation.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
JG: We have created, produce and manage several culinary events – Whiskey, Wine & Wildlife (W3) is unique in that it’s a celebration of the best of Georgia’s coast in a beautiful and historic setting. Jekyll Island is a magical place – it creates a sense of exploration and discovery, whether taking a long walk on Driftwood Beach or touring the historic mansions of the Jekyll Island Club – it provides something for everyone to enjoy.
For more information about Whiskey, Wine & Wildlife, please visit the event website.