Wine Down | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Wine Down

Sante South brings 32 top wineries to Highland Village April 13.

Sante South brings 32 top wineries to Highland Village April 13. Photo by Courtesy Flickr/derekGavey

Springtime means good eats and drinks in Jackson. If you’ve been hiding out from freak hailstorms by eating soup at home, now is the time to put down the ladle and get out into the city—all for a good cause. Three food and drink events are blasting into Jackson in a seven-day span, benefitting three community-minded organizations: the Alzheimer’s Association, the Jackson Zoo and Fondren Renaissance Foundation’s children’s art program.

In Mississippi, you can get up close and personal with a lot of interesting folks. But rare is the chance to talk to true wine vintners, the people who make some of the most sought-after wines worldwide. Enter Sante South, a luxury wine festival celebrating its ninth year.

Sante South brings the winery experience to Jackson April 13, with 32 visiting winemakers from around states such as California and Oregon, and countries such as Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa and Chile.

"The thing that makes Sante South special is that it is not the regional sales person from the winery that is coming to Sante South," says Sarah Gibson of the Alzheimer's Association. "It is the actual vintners that live on the winery and actually make the wine. And so it's really nice to have up close and personal time with the vintners, but it makes it even more personal that we only sell 200 tickets for that first hour. So you really can talk to the vintners and ask questions and get more of a personal experience."

Proceeds go to the Alzheimer's Association, which benefits from Sante South for the eighth year.

Restaurants from across the state will be on hand serving some of their signature dishes, but the wine is truly the star of the event. Unlike similar events in Mississippi, Gibson says Sante South has an edge due to the wineries that participate.

"I think two things (make this event stand out). The thing that makes Sante South different from other food and wine festivals is the selection of wine. We are very proud of the selection we have," Gibson says. "And then, the fact that the actual vintners are coming to Mississippi from overseas to participate."

Scott Jackson, certified sommelier and founder of Colony Wine Market, was integral in helping to choose the wines and reach the vintners.

It's meant to be a learning experience for guests, who are encouraged to ask lots of questions, take notes and find new favorites. "Another thing that's neat is we give you a little book, it's a wine guide and it will have each winery in there," Gibson says. "We encourage people to take notes or mark off ones they like, and then they can take it to their local wine store if they find one they really like and purchase it."

During the event, a drawing will take place, where one winner will receive one bottle from each of the 32 vintners scheduled to be present. Raffle tickets are $20 each, with a total wine haul at stake worth $1,200 to $1,300.

Sante South is April 13 at Highland Village. The VIP tasting, limited to 200 tickets, is from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $125, advance purchase only. The grand tasting is from 7:30 to 10 p.m. and is $80 in advance, $90 at the door. Tickets are available at santesouth.com/events.

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