NOW IN its eleventh year, the Tybee Wine Festival is a favorite event for locals and tourists alike.
The laid-back weekend is a fundraiser for the Tybee Post Theater.
“It really is amazing that it has had such longevity,” says Melissa Turner, executive director of the Tybee Post Theater. “The same folks come year in and year out—they just love it. We have folks that plan their vacation around all three events, rent a house or a condo down here and make a long weekend out of it.”
The festival starts Thursday night with Wine and Dine at the Deck, an exclusive multi-course dinner with wine pairings. Friday night is the Pickin’ and Shuckin’ with Beer and Bubbles at the Tybee Post Theater, where guests can shuck oysters or enjoy BBQ.
Of course, the main attraction is the Grand Wine Tasting on Saturday. The tasting event offers over a hundred wines international wines and samples from Tybee restaurants.
“What’s really easy about it is you buy one ticket and you just come in through the gate and eat and drink and listen to music and participate in the silent auction, all for one price,” says Turner. “It’s not complicated—we don’t have drink tickets or food tickets or anything like that. We just try to make it as easy and fun as we possibly can.”
In the distributor booths, representatives from the vineyards will be on hand to tell you about the wine—but, as Turner says, only if you’re interested.
“Or if you just come and say, ‘What’s your pinot grigio?’ they’ll pour you a pinot grigio,” says Turner.
As Turner describes, the laid-back nature of the festival makes it a huge hit. You don’t have to be a sommelier-level wine snob to enjoy.
“You can taste as many [wines] as you want or as few as you want,” says Turner. “You don’t even need to be a drinker for this particular festival. We call it a wine festival, but it’s really kind of a fun outdoor springtime festival.”
Turner notes that the event couldn’t happen without their generous partners.
“The distributors will decide which wines they want to highlight, and they’re donating the wine to us,” says Turner. “The restaurants out here on Tybee—it’s a tough time for Tybee restaurants when they’re not fully staffed up and summer hasn’t really begun yet, but they all come out and they do their good tastings for free for us as well. Without the wine distributors and the Tybee restaurants, we’d never be able to do this.”
The Tybee Post Theater has been a beloved part of the community for years. Built in the Fort Screven Historic District in 1930, the theater hosts concerts and theater productions as well as special screenings. Their screening of “A Star Is Born” in March sold out, which, to Turner, is exemplary of why the theater is needed.
“That shows what the theater has brought to the community, and I’m not talking about just Tybee, but Wilmington, Whitemarsh, Talahi, and Savannah too,” says Turner. “To fill up a movie theater with a movie that’s been out for five months? it just shows that people are really embracing the theater and really appreciate that it’s here. It is providing stuff they can’t get anywhere else.”