CRESTVIEW—From relatively modest beginnings on a cold early winter night in an elegantly decorated tent in the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce parking lot, the community’s annual chamber-sponsored Wine Gala has grown in scale, class and attendance.

This year’s event, themed “Moonlight and Melodies,” will be Sept. 29, hosted by Sunshine Aero Flight Testing in its new hangar at the Crestview Technology Air Park.

“This one is going to be over the top!” event chair Lynn Yort said.

CCB Bank hosted last year’s gala at its north Crestview location. Attendance grew from the first year’s 80 guests to 120. This year, Yort expects the number of attendees to more than double.

While the dressy evening affair touts area chefs and their restaurants, Yort said it is also an opportunity to appreciate the variety of businesses found in the Crestview area.

“When we were looking at venues, we wanted to showcase Crestview,” she said. “We know that Sunshine Aero demonstrates the diversity we have here in our business community. They demonstrate really high-tech, to-the-moon kind of technology. But it also showcases some of our Okaloosa County assets at Bob Sikes Airport.”

The first tenant at the Technology Air Park, Sunshine Aero’s hangar is state of the art, and its space will offer many opportunities for the evening’s festivities, namely dining, dancing and a silent auction, Yort said.

“Its 20,000 square feet of space allowed the event to grow significantly,” she said. “It lets chamber members really partner with the event. The culinary partners will have plenty of space, the silent auction will have plenty of space, and of course, the wine vendors will have plenty of space.”

The hangar’s location near the north end of the airport’s 8,000-foot runway and right off Airport Road not only is easily accessible, but it’s also strategically placed for one of the evening’s natural highlights: A bright, full moon is expected rise over the airport runway.
“When we did our research and we found the full moon rises at about 6:30, and Sunshine Aero’s hangar doors open to the east, we realized it was a great fit,” Yort said.

In addition to sampling food prepared by 10 culinary partners, including Christopher’s Uncorked Bistro, the Wild Olive, Johnny O’Quigley’s, Mia’s Italian Restaurant and the Coach N Four, attendees can bid on silent auction items and dance to the swingin’ music of Cheryl Jones and Company.

No wine gala would be complete without a variety of beverages made from fruits of the vine, including locally bottled vintages from the county’s only licensed wine producer, the Yellow River Winery near Holt. For those who do not wish to consume wine, Yort said non-alcoholic beverages will also be available.

There will also be surprises, she said.

“One of the things that is very cool is, on our silent auction we have a mystery box,” Yort said. “All you will know about that particular item is the shape of the box and the retail value of its contents. Last year, the bidding got pretty competitive."