The Charleston Wine + Food Festival kicked off on Thursday night with a couple official events and several non-official parties around town.

The fun began at 4:30 p.m. with a bourbon, barbecue, and Hirsch wine party at Heirloom Book Company. Julian Van Winkle manned the bar, pouring his coveted Pappy Van Winkle.

  • He’s the man

Jasmine Hirsch was pouring Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from her family’s vineyard. And Jimmy Hagood was there with little pork sandwiches.

  • Carlye Jane and the Heirloom Book gals

From there, it was on to crash the Billy Reid party, held in the swanky offices of Blue I’On. The highlight of my night was chatting with the Benton family. Allan Benton is the famed artisan behind Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams and was here to take part in the Southern Foodways Alliance culinary hub. On Friday, he gave a talk with Julian Van Winkle to a packed tent. On Thursday night, he was graciously and humbly expressing his gratitude for being included in the festival. A seriously sweet family.

  • Darrell, Meghan, Sharon, and Allan Benton

Grassroots Wine took over Butcher and Bee later that evening for a big Harlem Shake up. Madness ensued.

After that, the night wrapped up at an official afterparty at Oak Steakhouse, hosted by Jeremiah Bacon and Steve Palmer. Unfortunately, there was not a roulette wheel in sight, but there were plenty of chefs, authors, and media types.

  • Steve Palmer and Craig Deihl
  • Jill Mathias & Liz Bacon