The Savannah Food & Wine Festival: How it All Started

Posted on November 1, 2018 by

As Savannah’s autumn breeze begins to settle in, visitors and locals alike prepare for the annual Savannah Food & Wine Festival. From November 5-11, this celebration welcomes people from all over the world to bond over an affinity for Southern cuisine.

Each year, the Savannah Food and Wine Festival brings a week-long celebration of Southern cuisine. Photo courtesy of Savannah Food and Wine Festival.

Jan Gourley, owner of The AdFish Group, saw a need to increase the culinary profile of the Hostess City after working for another Lowcountry festival. With over three decades of marketing experience, she collaborated with Savannah’s Tourism Leadership Council to set the table for one of the city’s most beloved weeks.

While there are many things that allure food aficionados to the festival, a shared affinity for Southern cuisine remains the fundamental force behind its success.

“I believe Southern food is an obsession,” Gourley began. “Growing up in the melting pot of the U.S. — New Orleans, Louisiana — I know the importance of African influences on food first-hand. Everything from Lowcountry and Cajun to Creole and Floribbean – it’s modern day soul food.”

And Gourley is right — it is an obsession. The festival premiered in 2013 with an impressive 3,000 patrons and $1.8 million in economic impact for the city. Now this savory feast is a massive culinary powerhouse attracting over 15,000 people and providing nearly $8 million annually.

Since the festival’s premiere in 2013, thousands of people have come to Savannah each year to enjoy events and samples. Photo courtesy of Savannah Food and Wine Festival.

Featuring an array of intimate master classes and one-of-a-kind events, the festival has something to satisfy everyone’s palate. “The Taste of Savannah,” by far the festival’s most popular attraction, features over 500 varieties of beverage tastings and premium wines, spirits and beers. Attendees can also sample flavors prepared by more than 20 of the region’s exceptional restaurants.

“If you love the South and Southern hospitality, there’s no better week to be in Savannah than [the week of] the festival,” Gourley said. “It’s a feast for all the senses in one of the South’s most beautiful and charming places to be!”

For more information on the Savannah Food & Wine Festival or to purchase tickets for an event, visit the official website at

Article written by Blake Ciccio.