What? A house in Rosemary Beach for under 1.4 million?
A legacy of entertainment, education and giving back
In 2020, Sinfonia Gulf Coast will celebrate its 15th year of bringing world-class music and entertainment to the Emerald Coast. Demetrius Fuller founded the organization 14 years ago with a vision of introducing the area’s first stand-alone, fully-professional symphony, and since that time, he has helped redefine the cultural landscape of Northwest Florida through more than 575 “inspiring and artistically evocative” performances that have reached over 350,000 patrons.
“We started with a mission and vision to educate, inspire and entertain,” Fuller said. “But, the level of artistry that we’ve been able to produce from Sinfonia’s concerts and events has been pretty mind-blowing.”
From names like Vanessa Williams—headlining Sinfonia’s recent November gala—and Roberta Flack to Bernadette Peters and Patti Lupone, Sinfonia’s reach has exceeded Fuller’s expectations. He credits the success to a supportive community.
“This community allows us to be able to produce this caliber of artistry. We have a very supportive corporate community and patron following,” Fuller said.
Concerts and events are just one component of Sinfonia’s mission, Fuller emphasized, pointing to his passion for music education. Sinfonia Guest Artists in the Schools program currently includes a collaborative partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Institute of Music called Link Up. The program is provided free of charge and features a year-long curriculum that culminates with a live recorder performance with the Sinfonia orchestra. In 2019, approximately 3,600 third-fifth graders in Okaloosa and Walton counties participated in the program.
“It’s always one of my favorite memories from Sinfonia—just to see and hear all the kids. If you ever wonder what 2,000 recorders sound like at one time…it’s a sound only a mother could love,” Fuller laughed.
Music outreach is not limited to the classroom. Sinfonia musicians are frequently seen out in the community, whether that be at nursing homes or the library, interacting and performing. Notably, Fuller himself is very active in the community serving as a Trustee of the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, a board member with both the Okaloosa Arts Alliance and Alaqua Animal Refuge and as the past chair of the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball.
Fuller is a versatile conductor who has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious conductors and orchestras. An advocate of contemporary music, he has premiered, commissioned or collaborated with such names as Augusta Read-Thomas, Dorothy Hindman, Thomas Schneller and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. Fuller is also an accomplished clarinetist and award recipient from the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts, the Werner Foundation and the International Music Foundation.
Looking ahead, Fuller noted that Sinfonia’s 15th year will mark new campaigns to create the kind of sustainability that ensures the organization remains viable for the long-term. High on his list is a home venue for Sinfonia that will help advance not only the caliber of events but also the organization’s education efforts.
Upcoming Sinfonia opportunities:
Village Baptist Church, Destin FL
Friday, December 13, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Village Baptist Church, Destin, FL
Saturday, February 1, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
Emerald Coast Convention Center, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Saturday, May 16, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
A behind-the-scenes look at how The Premier Property Group distinguishes itself in the market.
Consumers have more information at their fingertips than ever before. In an age where the noise flooding any marketplace can be deafening, how does a company effectively break through and make a connection with its audience?
The answer starts with the right foundation: a company’s brand. Recently, Paul Landers, creative director with The Premier Property Group (PPG), shared his insights on the importance of branding and how the executive team at PPG is strategically positioning itself for sustainable success as a luxury real estate company within the Emerald Coast’s crowded marketplace.
“Branding goes far beyond a company’s consistent use of color or a consumer’s ability to recall a logo or graphic element. It equates to a promise,” Landers said. “The PPG brand should embody a great customer experience and be compelling, honest, distinctive and proprietary. The Premier brand is, after all, what our customers say it is, not what we say.”
PPG along with its sister divisions, Premier Commercial Group and Premier Development Group, all operate under the umbrella of the parent company, The Premier Group. In a market of just over 4,800 real estate professionals (just in Walton County) all vying to earn the trust of buyers and sellers, Landers noted that PPG is differentiating its brand in the following ways:
PPG is one of the top locally-owned, independent real estate sales firms in Northwest Florida. That characteristic brings many advantages, according to Landers. “Number one, we know our communities inside and out,” he said. “In addition, PPG is not governed by a headquarters five states away that may or may not understand the nuances of our market. If we need to adjust strategy based on what’s happening across the communities we serve today, our team has the power and flexibility to do that.”
PPG may maintain its operations on the Emerald Coast, but its team has global reach. Landers emphasized that a key differentiator for the company is its designation as the only local real estate group to be invited to become part of Luxury Portfolio International and Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. PPG listings are marketed in over 52 countries worldwide and across 500 websites—an important feature that ensures high-end real estate reaches the right audience.
Proven Track Record
A consistent leader of area sales, PPG has been ranked in the top 10% of luxury sales from the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors since its first year of operation. The company serves some of the Gulf Coast’s most sought-after communities including South Walton, Scenic Highway 30A, Destin, Niceville and Panama City Beach. Landers noted that this success comes from understanding its audience and narrowing its marketing focus to meet the needs of luxury buyers and sellers.
Next-Generation Marketing Techniques
The way companies reach their constituents is evolving rapidly in tandem with technological advancements. Not only must PPG continually adjust its own marketing strategies, but it must offer buyers and sellers of luxury real-estate access to forward-thinking marketing techniques as well. “Communication must make a connection in today’s market. Otherwise, consumers will look elsewhere,” Landers emphasized. “At a time when connectivity has actually resulted in a more disconnected society, we are all looking for personalized experiences and want to relate to the human element of a company.”
Destin’s exclusive Crystal Beach community will soon welcome the addition of a new standard in luxury condominium development. Following a successful pre-sales launch, the Premier Property Group (PPG) is gearing up to break ground on Phase 1 of Parkside at the Henderson, a distinctive retreat that will provide an elegant addition to the Henderson Beach Resort portfolio of accommodations.
As of early September, approximately two-thirds of the 32 residences that will encompass the first phase were already reserved. Bryan Whitehead, lead agent for the development, noted that the first units will likely go to contract at the end of September in anticipation of an October groundbreaking.
“The response to this offering has been tremendous,” Whitehead said. “We only have about 10 condominiums left in the Phase 1 inventory. Our owners are excited about the prospects of stepping into their new condominiums as soon as late 2020 to enjoy the best of upscale coastal lifestyle.”
Phase 1 of the development includes three of the five planned buildings—the main Parkview Building overlooking the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico and two pool-view buildings—along with the resort pool. Notably, owners and guests will also enjoy full access to the expansive Henderson Beach Resort amenities package that includes a full-service spa, fully-equipped fitness center with classes, multiple resort pools including a lazy river, poolside cabanas, free shuttle service and a private beach. An onsite kid’s club ensures parents get to unwind as their children enjoy daily camp and kid’s night out activities as well as live entertainment provided on the resort property. Bicycle, kayak, snorkel and paddleboard rentals are also available.
Parkside at the Henderson features one-, two- and three-bedroom residences, although Whitehead acknowledged that most of the one-bedroom condominiums available in Phase 1 are already reserved. Floor plans are thoughtfully designed for easy, everyday living, and PPG’s commitment to quality construction means residences come with high-end stainless steel appliances, polished chrome plumbing fixtures, quartz countertops, all-wood cabinetry, frameless glass shower enclosures and a craftsman-style interior package. Residences are equipped with extras that include a wet bar and undercounter wine fridge as well as a generous balcony for entertaining or simply enjoying a quiet evening watching the sun set.
In addition to its upscale interior residence package, Parkside at the Henderson is raising the bar on coastal condominium living through high-end concierge and valet services, in-room and poolside dining, daily cleaning, courtesy shuttles and beach chair and umbrella service. Two upscale restaurant options are offered on the property including Primrose and the area’s celebrated Beachwalk Café, Destin’s only fine dining located directly on the Gulf of Mexico. To engage in a more social atmosphere, Horizons octagon-shaped beachfront bar has quickly become a Destin hot spot for guests and locals alike. The resort also offers casual dining at Sea Level Poolside Bar and Grill, Sprinkles Ice Cream Shoppe, Beach Cantina grab and go offerings and the soon-to-be-built North Pool Bar and Grill.
Whitehead noted that strong rental showings within the existing Henderson resort condominiums have contributed to the pre-sale success. “Real estate investors recognize the opportunity available through Parkside,” he said. “Destin’s Crystal Beach community is a coveted vacation haven, and new condominium investment opportunities do not surface very often, especially within the scale of luxury offered through the Henderson portfolio.”
On-site resort rental management and maintenance is available, and unit pricing begins in the low $500,000. Whitehead noted that reservations for the 16 units that will encompass Phase 2 of the development will likely begin in the early part of 2020
The craft movement has been making its way across the Florida panhandle for some time now, mostly in the form of refreshing, one-of-a-kind beer brands. Offering a wide variety of tastes and flavors, locally-owned craft breweries thrive because most often, their beer simply tastes better than mass-produced alternatives.
In tandem with this movement, craft distilleries are an emerging trend along the Emerald Coast, popping up in cities like Gulf Breeze, Santa Rosa Beach, Milton and Crestview. The five craft distilleries that call northwest Florida home strive to create unique spirits, educate consumers and promote the craft distillery concept across the area.
The distillery process demands something that can be fermented, and local Emerald Coast operations are universally taking advantage of the vast natural resources in the area. From molasses to grains and locally-grown fruits, these businesses create uniquely-Florida flavors while they support others in their communities.
Timber Creek Distillery in Crestview creates 10 different products — including rum, vodka, whiskey and gin — using a pure-blend process that distills each grain individually. This process matters because different grains cook at different temperatures, so distilling each one individually allows Master Distiller Aaron Barnes to optimize the fermentation and capture the ideal flavor profile of each one.
“By distilling each individual grain, we can optimize the flavors coming out,” said President Camden Ford. “Depending on how the grains are behaving, we can get more alcohol out with bolder flavors. Most of the big distilleries don’t have a lot of involvement on a batch-to-batch basis in determining the flavor of the whiskey, so there’s not a lot of art to it.”
Because Timber Creek distills each grain separately, they are the first-ever to offer a bourbon blending kit that comes with a bottle of corn whiskey, wheat whiskey, rye whiskey and barley whiskey so you can create your own whiskey blend.
Timber Creek, which was named Best Distillery on the Emerald Coast for the last two years, is building a brand new distillery and will offer tours beginning after Labor Day. Contact them via Facebook or email to set up a tour.
Also located in Crestview, Peaden Brothers Distillery produces a variety of moonshines using a 200-year-old family recipe that is local to the area. Bartlett Peaden, one of the first settlers in Okaloosa County, created the recipe, and all of the company’s products have ties to its roots.
The craft distillery produces five different varieties of moonshine and sources its corn out of Milton. In addition, the team also produces intermittent batches of bourbon, rye, single malt and rum throughout the year. Peaden Brothers operates in Crestview’s Fox Theater which dates back to the 1940s.
“We had bourbon connoisseurs comment that they couldn’t believe we were producing great whiskey in such a small space,” said Robert Ellis, co-owner of Peadens. “You don’t need a big space to make good whiskey.”
Peaden Brothers is open Wednesday through Saturday, 12-5 and they offer tours of the small craft distillery process. Connect with them on Facebook for more information.
Rollins Distillery, located in Gulf Breeze, was the first licensed distillery in the panhandle, founded in 2011. Operated by father-and-son team Paul and Patrick Rollins, the small craft distillery produces rum and vodka distilled from 100 percent Florida molasses.
“We want to educate the consumer about our process because ultimately, it’s through education that consumers will understand how spirits are made and how they are to be cared for and enjoyed,” Patrick said. “We create craft products, and we aren’t just trying to feed the bottom line.”
Rollins Distillery is working to build relationships with farmers and growers in the panhandle so they can take advantage of local resources to produce spirits that are drawn from the region. Big picture, the Rollins family hopes to take advantage of Florida’s natural resources to bring business into the state and specifically into the panhandle.
Rollins Distillery offers tours of its facilities by appointment and invites visitors to call or message them on Facebook for more information.
Scratch Ankle Distillery in Milton derives its name from local history and the thistles and thorns that settlers encountered when they arrived in the Milton area.
“Our spirits are unconventional,” said Distillery Manager Evan Doyle. “They are flavorful, robust, and they punch above their weight. Everything is fermented, processed, distilled, and bottled here.”
Scratch Ankle Distillery focuses primarily on a variety of rums and moonshines, but they have also produced vodka, a young bourbon, a bourbon-barrel-aged rum and rum-soaked cherries. And when they can go local, they do: the team uses unprocessed raw blackstrap molasses from Florida, as well as corn and rye from within the state. The distillery also sends its spent grains to a local farmer who uses them to feed his pigs.
Scratch Ankle Distillery offers tours Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 6 and Sunday, noon to 4.
The newest of the bunch, Distillery 98, is located in Santa Rosa Beach and will deal primarily in vodka, rum, and whiskey.
“It is our goal to highlight this great state and the beautiful Emerald Coast that we get to call home,” said owner and CEO Harrison Holditch. “We want to spread our passion for craft spirits to the passionate people of (Highway) 98.”
Distillery 98 makes its spirits grain-to-glass using a one-of-a-kind oyster shell filter and Florida panhandle corn. Additionally, the distillery shares a green space with Idyll Hounds Brewing Company.
Distillery 98 will open for tastings in September and will release its first bottle in October. For more information, check out the company’s Facebook page.
These local distilleries are building a following across the Emerald Coast, and many of them can be found in local establishments around the area.
“The industry as a whole has an advantage that the beer guys don’t in that most people don’t know what the liquor they are drinking is supposed to taste like,” Ford said. “We have to teach people what good spirits taste like.”
Fall Inshore Preview with Slow and Low Coastal Outfitters
Captain Patrick Tarpey, owner of Slow and Low Coastal Outfitters, may be enjoying a small break as summer begins to give way to a quieter, cooler season along the Emerald Coast. But it won’t last long.
Very soon, bookings for inshore fishing charters will begin pouring in as eager anglers gear up to target giant bull redfish or monster jack crevalle—two of the company’s primary fall season targets.
A native Texan self-described as having “an absolute obsession with the water,” Tarpey draws from a wide breadth of experience fishing diverse ecosystems and learning new techniques across the globe. Today, his business is grounded in fly and light tackle sight fishing from St. Joe Bay to east of Destin.
“We offer a niche service that appeals to a wide market,” he says. “There may be easier ways to catch fish for sure, but that’s not really the point. On our charters, anglers are always hunting, actively engaged and eager to try and trick a giant fish.”
Finding the Giants
Our region is surrounded by multiple world-class fisheries that offer an abundance of species. And while the inshore opportunities for a sea-to-table catch are many, Tarpey’s focus is more singular in nature: catch and release trophy hunting.
In the summer, tarpon are central to that focus, and the popularity of catching these giants—reaching upwards of 150 pounds or more—equates to a fully-booked schedule for Tarpey up to two months out. The fall months may not boast the same size options, but Tarpey said that the excitement of targeting a 20-30 pound class bull redfish or 30-40 pound class jack crevalle makes for an exceptional experience in its own right.
“Redfish are some of our favorite and most challenging species to target, and the fight is rarely disappointing,” Tarpey notes. “The true giant redfish are out in the Gulf of Mexico right now making babies, but pretty soon, they are going to come back inland.”
Tarpey further explained that the Emerald Coast has some of the most visual red fishing encounters available anywhere on the coast. This distinction is important for sight fishing as it lays the groundwork for effectively sneaking up on the fish and getting into position for the optimal shot.
All about Adrenaline
Slow and Low Coastal Outfitter’s technical approach to fishing is less about chunking bait in the water with the hopes of a getting a bite and more about the hunt, proper technique and pure adrenaline. While Tarpey’s “catch and release” program means clients won’t take anything home for dinner, Tarpey emphasizes that the excitement and gratification of this style of fishing will keep you coming back for more.
“We’re actively finding targets in the region’s clear water and putting our eyes on them before making an approach. That giant redfish we are pursuing might be hundreds of feet in the distance,” he adds. “It’s goal-oriented fishing that hinges on making the right presentation to the fish.”
Simply put, anglers get out of it what they put into it, Tarpey says, emphasizing that there is an element of effort and practice. “You become proficient and then start having a lot more fun with it,” he says. “Our guests get the satisfaction of targeting bucket list fish on a fly–a challenging experience but completely worth it.”
Slow & Low Coastal Outfitters is based out of Santa Rosa Beach and the 30A area. For more information or to book a charter, send an email to Patrick@SlowandLowCoastal.com or call 850.502.3222.