Work brought me to Raleigh at the perfect time, the week of Charleston Wine & Food, so I made an executive decision to make the four drive to Charleston to partake.  Not a single a regret.  This would be my third trip to Charleston (recapped the first trip here and the second one here), but with the festival activities this trip was a tad different.  I lucked up and got media for the event which gave me access to some of the cool signature events, plus I learned more details on navigating the event for future visits  Here is my recap of my weekend at the Charleston Wine & Food.

Navigating the Event

Two woman cheersing on porch with water in background

I made the decision to come for the festival at the last minute so I did not do my typical amount of research before arriving.  Lucky for me, KJ of Black Food Fridays and the Charleston Visitors Bureau hosted a small gathering of content creators at  Bourbon ‘n Bubbles, a beautiful black owned spot on King Street.   There I learned more about the event which had been going on for a few days at that point.

Champagne glass in background with hand on top of Charleston Visitors Bureau book in foreground

A couple of key things I discovered.  Unlike many festivals, this one is all over of the greater Charleston area with events being hosted in small suburbs outside of the city as well.   With one common trait, pretty much every event was on the water.   This helped with spreading the love to well deserving spots throughout the metro area, but also allowed us out of towners to see a bit more of the city.   Getting to the events was fairly easy with my rental car and/or occasional uber.  Plus unlike Houston everything was about ten to fifteen minutes apart.

Woman standing behind seasaw

Fun at the nightcap!

For the festival, there were your main events like culinary village (affectionately called the tents) which opened Friday-Sunday to huge crowds looking for bites, sips and great entertainment.   During the day we enjoyed events like Hip Hops, Street Eats and Side Hustle. By evening the “tents” area converted to the NightCap, a concert and evening fun.  Then there were what they termed excursions, small more intimate events where guests could experience unique events like themed dinners or cocktail parties.  This trip did not include any of those stops but for those who did attend the excursions this seemed to be the highlight of their trip.

Favorite Bites and Sips

Bubbles ‘n Bourbon

Bourbon 'n Bubbles bar with people seated

This spot had been on my list for a few years so I was glad to finally visit.  Aesthetically it’s everything.  Then they have the nerve to have great food too! Highly recommend stopping by during your Charleston visit.

Wings on a plate topped with seeds and green onions

Street Eats

Hand holding cup in foreground with sign and twinkle lights in background

Street Eats highlighted bites from Asian chefs with a night market theme and setup.  Tried a lot, but the one dish I haven’t forgotten, Sarah’s Dumps or dumplings, which you can order frozen!

Dumplings in a paper bowl

Hip Hops Event

Such a fun event that highlighted hip hop culture with break dancing and great music.   Hip Hops was located at Embassy Suites Mt Pleasant, and it was the nicest Embassy Suites I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting, so add it to your list.  The night before, I met April who realllly undersold her role at the festival.   Here she was along with several other Black brewers serving up HER beer that she had brewed, called Tha Community Brew!  A Black woman breaking barriers.  We stan.

Three people standing with pink signs

Be sure to check out all of these folks. Their instagrams are listed on their pink signs!

Side Hustle Event

Roasted pig on grill

This event was intended to highlight side dishes, but of course you gotta bring the meat!  Local favorite Rodney Scott served up his famous whole roasted pig.  There were so many great sides and sips at this event, but the two that stand at are the mac and cheese from Jake Wood of Lawrence Barbecue in Durham, North Carolina AND the braised brussel sprouts with smoked reaper sausage and white cheddar from Chef Keith Richardson of Cherrywood BBQ & Ale House in Kiawah Island, SC.

Culinary Village

Hand holding wine glass with rose

I did not stay here too long, but while there I grabbed a glass of my favorite rose from La Fete (Black owned).  Then I inhaled a burger so quickly that I didn’t even get a chance to see the name of the restaurant/chef.

Hand holding small cheese burger with grass in background

Gillie’s Seafood on James Island

Styrofoam container with mac & cheese, fried seafood and hushpuppies

Okay this was not on the Charleston Wine and Food agenda, but my friend Vicky raved about it so we made the drive out to James Island to try.  Amazing restaurant Black owned restaurant with so many good bites.  If you go on a Sunday like we did, keep in mind that the Sunday after church crowd is strong in Charleston and they arrive early after the early service ends.

Finale Party

Pork Belly topped with red onion

Red Beans and Rice

Y’all I ate so dang good at the finale party it doesn’t make any sense lol.    We started with Chef Dom Lee (you’ll remember him from Poitin in Houston) who created his spin on red beans and rice with pork belly.   Other standouts, a great donut, pork rinds with onion dip, chicken from Rodney Scott and an amazing cocktail from Grey Goose.

Plates of pork rinds with onion dip

Hand holding donut with building and people in background

Tips and Takeaways

Woman standing in foreground in blue dress with bridge in background

  • Purchase your tickets for events early because many of the great events and excursions sell out.  I’m also not quite sure how folks who are not media can purchase badges for the event, but if it is possible I would say it is worth it.  Cutting  the lines at the Culinary Village alone make it worth it.
  • During my previous trips I stayed close to King Street/downtown, but this time I stayed at the Marriott in North Charleston.  Great hotel and a great price point.  With so much of the event being spread out all over the city at some point your hotel will be “near” or “far.”  Go for what is comfy to your hotel sensibilities and wallet.
  • Arrive Early is all I can say.  I was part of the welcoming committee for pretty much every event I attended and it was worth it especially for the culinary village.  This event is WELL attended, so it is important to arrive early before the event starts.
  • Wear comfy shoes.  The culinary village required a good amount walking from your car or uber lot to the fairgrounds.   There is a certain Charleston aesthetic (pretty, colorful, ruffles, you know the type) that still goes well with some white tennis shoes.  Trust me on this.
  • I came to the city alone knowing I would know a few bloggers and would meet other cool people and I did!  Do not feel weird about going alone to this event.  You can meet cool people throughout the event.


Charleston is ALWAYS a good time.  It is filled with so much history (especially Black history), beautiful scenery and great food!  I’ll be back sooner than later because it is one of my favorite cities and I hope you all take the time to give it a visit as well.