30A Coastal Dunes is a Proud Sponsor of The Underwater Museum of Art

CAA Executive Director, Jennifer Steele with artist Allison Wickey and co-founder of 30A Coastal Dunes Wine Company, George Barnes  – celebrating the deployment of underwater sculptures opening in Grayton Beach State Park.

CAA Executive Director, Jennifer Steele with artist Allison Wickey and co-founder of 30A Coastal Dunes Wine Company, George Barnes  – celebrating the deployment of underwater sculptures opening in Grayton Beach State Park.

Octopus sculture created by Allison Wickey.

Octopus sculture created by Allison Wickey.


SANTA ROSA BEACH, FL (June 28, 2018) – This week, the nation’s first permanent Underwater Museum of Art (UMA) opened in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Grayton Beach State Park in South Walton, Fla. 

The UMA is the first presentation of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA)’s Art In Public Spaces Program and was produced in collaboration with the South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA). The purpose of the UMA is to create art that becomes marine habitat, expanding fishery populations and providing enhanced creative, cultural, economic and educational opportunities for the benefit, education and enjoyment of residents, students and visitors in South Walton.

On June 25, seven sculptures became part of the inaugural UMA installation: “Propeller in Motion” by Marek Anthony, “Self-Portrait” by Justin Gaffrey, “The Grayt Pineapple” by Rachel Herring, “JYC’s Dream” by Kevin Reilly, “SWARA Skull” by Vince Tatum, “Concrete Rope Reef Spheres” by Evelyn Tickle and “Anamorphous Octopus” by Allison Wickey. Around 80 onlookers, including many of the artists and project partners, were on site to view the historic deployment.

“After nearly two years of planning and fundraising, it was a surreal hour watching the artwork being lowered into the Gulf of Mexico,” said CAA Executive Director Jennifer Steele. “From the moment Allison Wickey, our board president, brought this idea to the table as a co-project with SWARA, we have been encouraged by the excitement from and support by our local community and the national and international interest it has received. It has been a wonderfully challenging experience for the CAA to reach outside our comfort zone to make this vision a reality, and it could not have happened without our partnership with SWARA and contributions from Visit South Walton, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Alys Foundation, Visit Florida and all of the sculpture sponsors who wanted to be a part of this unique project.”

The UMA was deployed with SWARA’s existing USACOA and FDEP permitted artificial reef project that includes nine nearshore reefs located within one nautical mile of the shore in approximately 50-60 feet of water. A one-acre permit patch of seabed off Grayton Beach State Park has been dedicated to the CAA for the purpose of a permanent underwater sculpture exhibit. The UMA patch will continue to be filled with several sculptures annually. 

“The perspective when viewing the sculptures in a marine environment is drastically different than when on land,” said SWARA Board President Andy McAlexander who dove the UMA site right after the deployment took place. “The intent of the project was proven within an hour of deployment when we could see schools of bait fish swarming the structures, completely validating the entire effort. I have never been prouder to have had the privilege to work with such talented and visionary people in my life. This project has changed my perspective towards art.”

Admission to the UMA is free. No ticket or reservation is required. However, there is a fee to enter Grayton Beach State Park. The UMA is only accessible in person as a dive location. Divers who wish to visit the site can take a dive boat .7 miles off the coast of Grayton Beach State Park. The coordinates for the center sculpture (SWARA Skull) are Latitude N 30 18.754 Longitude W 86 09.522. Out of respect for the art, boaters are asked to find the center location and then move away from the park to anchor in order to avoid damage to the artwork.

Visit UMAFL.org for information about dive shops, tours and obtaining your certification while visiting South Walton. There will also be photos and videos of the sculptures online, which will be updated periodically, in order to document the marine growth on each sculpture.

The 2018 UMA installation is presented by Visit South Walton with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Alys Foundation, Visit Florida, 30A.com, 30A Coastal Dunes Wine Company, BOTE, Bud & Alley’s Restaurant, and O.B. Laurent Construction. Special thanks to both Walter Marine and Galati Yachts for their partnership in the deployment.

Artists interested in submitting artwork for consideration to the 2019 UMA installation can visit UMAFL.org to complete a pre-application.

As seen in the Walton Sun

CBA celebrates 20 and receives gifts

By Deborah Wheeler
Updated June 22, 2016 at 2:36 PM

George Barnes speaks to CBA on June 20.

George Barnes speaks to CBA on June 20.

Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance celebrated 20 years this week, and received a great gift.

CBA is now a beneficiary of the sale of local 30A Coastal Dune wines, say the wines' co-owners George Barnes and Charles Modica.

"One thing my parents always told me was to give back," said Modica. "Before we signed the LLC for the wine, we agreed to give back to the community through sales. And with the 30A Coastal Dune Wine label, we felt we should see that kids get as much education as they can about these dunes and conservation of them."

How much will be donated will depend on how much wine is sold.

"As long as business is growing, we will donate," said Modica. "I think it's important."

Barnes agreed.

"Charlie and I have been a part of the community a long time and want to give back," said Barnes. "We are both outdoorsmen and fishermen and we wanted to do something close to home. Growing up in New Orleans, I was surrounded by levies. Here, the dunes are our levies. And, without vegetation to hold the dunes in place we will wash away in a storm."

CBA Director Alison McDowell said Barnes approached them about the possibility of donating and after talking, they decided the perfect fit would be CBA's Dunes in Schools program.

"In South Walton, there are 15 officially named Coastal Dune Lakes that are globally rare," she said. "We have a focus group that is entirely grant and donor dependent we take sea oats into middle school classrooms and the students then go out and plant them around dunes. Their donation will help fund this program. We are grateful for a community of stewards."

The celebration was June 20 at Nick's in Freeport.

As seen in the Walton Sun

30A Coastal Dunes Chardonnay debuts

By Deborah Wheeler
Updated Apr 15, 2015 at 3:45 PM

Three friends who enjoy wine have come together to bring a new wine to 30A.

Charles Modica, George Barnes, and Pete Seghesio have joined forces to bring everyone a taste of 30A with their introduction of 30A Coastal Dunes Chardonnay.

The trio debuted the wine last week at Modica's Market in Seaside, where the wine is sold.

Barnes, who is a chef, wine aficionado and restaurateur, has known wine-maker Seghesio for 20 years and visited him at his San Lorenzo micro winery, where he produces small batches of wine in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County.

Seghesio has been visiting South Walton since 1995.

"This is a wonderful place to visit and fun," he said. "George taught my kids to fish. And Seaside is where my kids first got a little bit of freedom. You want to sell your wine to your friends."

In talking, the men decided to join forces in a new venture. Modica was asked to join them and he agreed.

The result is a chardonnay that is not too oaky or buttery, but with notes of red apple and tropical fruit.

"I wanted a food wine," said Barnes. "It goes great with food and is good by itself. It's great with seafood -- a great spring and summer wine."

The name for the wine came from Barnes and Modica wanting to tip their hats to what's special about the place they call home.

"It's about identity," said Barnes. "And what's special to us here."

Barnes commissioned local artist Allison Wickey to create the artwork for the wine's label. She was Walton County's Artist of the Year for 2011.

The 30A Coastal Dunes Chardonnay is distributed by McNeese Distributing and available at Modica Market, and Emerald Coast Wine & Spirits.

For those who drink only red wine, it's coming, said Modica.

As seen in Thirty-A Review

30-A offers winding roads, quaint communities, and pockets of hidden gems, not to mention stunning architecture, white sand beaches and emerald waters. But there is even more that draws people to South Walton, like the incredible food, craft drink and sought after art scene.

Recently, a new wine called 30A Coastal Dunes Chardonnay; distributed by McNeese Distributing, LLC, and labeled by recognized artist, Allison Wickey; hit the stores and the local restaurant menus to rave reviews. The collaboration took place between three close friends: George Barnes, director of operations at 723 Whiskey Bravo in Seagrove Beach, Florida, celebrity grocer, Charlie Modica, Jr., of Modica Market in Seaside, and Peter Seghesio, a famed winemaker who has known Barnes for two decades. Seghesio has visited Seaside each Easter with his family since 1995 (where he got to know Modica), and is the owner of Lorenzo micro winery that produces small batches of wine in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, on a vineyard that Peter’s great-grandfather started in 1886.

I enjoyed an exceptional evening tasting light h’orderves and sipping on the refreshing, buttery wine at the Seghesios’ Seaside beach home with Wickey, Barnes and Modica this past spring. Cathy and Peter Seghesio’s young sons, Joseph and Will, were on hand and entertained us with stories filled with passion for their family business on a glorious night as we watched the sun dip below the Gulf’s horizon. The unfiltered wine is very drinkable on its own, but also pairs very well with a variety of dishes, especially seafood. We were delighting in and savoring Ms. Lisa Black’s crab cakes from Modica Market. This band of brothers selected the finest grapes to create a blend that makes up the luscious, fruity, yet balanced 30A Coastal Dunes Chardonnay. The grapes are then fermented in large concrete shaped eggs that allow for breathing and make for a richer, more full bodied wine. 

Once in production, Charlie and George reached out to Allison Wickey about creating the label for 30A Coastal Dunes Chardonnay. Wickey says, “They developed the concept before they came to me. They scouted many other artists and I feel honored to have been chosen. My painting of Western Lake is one of the most iconic scenes on 30- A, and perfect for the wine label.” Wickey’s work is a 3-step, 4-day process involving Venetian plaster, acrylic paint, glazes, and an orbital sander. You will find her work draping the walls of homes and restaurants up and down 30-A and beyond. Barnes loved the commissioned art from the wine label so much that he in turn commissioned the same piece that is now hanging in his and his fiancé’s gorgeous new home.

Wickey became well known quickly when she moved to South Walton in 2007, and could not get enough of painting the rare coastal dune lake images. It was soothing and peaceful. Wickey says, “After eight years, Western Lake is still a fan favorite. That image is used for so many events and again, I am flattered to have my art on the 30A Coastal Dunes Chardonnay bottle.” Wickey was given the accolade for 2011 Beaches of South Walton Artist Of The Year and 2012 Best Art Gallery on the Emerald Coast. She is currently moving her art studio to the newest sensation on 30-A, The Hub at Prominence.

The Idea Boutique and Cornerstone Marketing created the graphics for the wine bottle and in the future, red and sparkling wines are in the plans to be offered. Modica says, “We want people to come on a journey with us and to enjoy this fine wine, presented on a platform that raises awareness for preservation efforts of our fragile coastal lakes.”

You can find 30A Coastal Dunes Chardonnay with Wickey’s artistic label at Modica Market, 45 Central and Great Southern Café in Seaside, and at The Bay on Hwy 331. 723 Whiskey Bravo and Café Thirty-A in Seagrove Beach, Stinky’s Fish Camp in Dune Allen, George’s at Alys Beach, and Edward’s in Rosemary Beach also have the wine for purchase. For more information about 30A Coastal Dunes wines, visit the website at 30ACoastalDunes.com. Visit Allison Wickey’s website at allisonwickey.com

As seen in Vie Magazine

“In Vino Veritas”

(Article as appeared in VIE Magazine – March/April 2015)
By Colleen Sachs

Through their respective businesses, restaurateur George Barnes (chef and owner of Smiling Fish Café for thirteen years and currently director of operations at 723 Whiskey Bravo in Seagrove Beach, Florida) and grocer Charlie Modica, Jr. (of Modica Market in Seaside) have had a big impact on the way people in the coastal communities along Scenic Highway 30-A eat. So it is only fitting that the two friends have teamed up to influence what those same people drink. The first wine from their company, 30A Coastal Dunes, has just been released.

Barnes says the wine is about “friendships, relationships, and the beauty of this area.” In fact, the label artwork, done by Allison Wickey, is of 30-A’s Western Lake. Barnes describes it as an “identifying and iconic image of the area.” He says, “When I first saw that view, it captured my heart and made me wonder how I could move here.”

Barnes did move to Santa Rosa Beach in the early nineties, and he’s been friends with Modica and his family ever since. Modica considers Barnes “not just a friend, but a brother.”

The friendship that is such an important part of this wine extends beyond that of Barnes and Modica. In the mid-1990s, Barnes met Peter and Cathy Seghesio at a local wine dinner. Peter has deep roots in the California wine industry. The friendship grew with the Seghesios taking frequent trips to Florida and Barnes visiting the Seghesios at their home in Healdsburg, California, on many occasions (including his celebration of a milestone birthday). Barnes and Cathy Seghesio even realized they had worked for the same company when both were in New Orleans many years ago.

During this time, Modica was also getting to know the Seghesios. They would visit Seaside for Easter each year, and their sons, Joseph and Will, made a habit of having breakfast at Modica Market so their parents could have the luxury of sleeping in.

Peter Seghesio had long encouraged Barnes to come to California not just to visit, but also to create a wine. Barnes finally felt the time was right to team with the Seghesios. Their San Lorenzo Winery is located in the cellar below their home on a vineyard that Peter’s maternal great-grandfather, Francesco Passalacqua, started in 1896 (the winery is named for Francesco’s hometown in Italy).

Without question, the grapes that make up the 30A Coastal Dunes wine are important. They come from vineyards in California’s Russian River Valley, and while each of the vineyards produces grapes that create excellent single-vineyard Chardonnays, the blend of these carefully chosen grapes makes this a special wine. For example, a hefty percentage of a Montrachet clone is responsible for the wine’s lushness, while other grapes add balanced acidity.

Once the grapes are chosen, the next step in the production is one of the things that make this wine so interesting. The juice from those exceptional grapes is fermented in large concrete eggs. The use of concrete in wine production goes back at least to the early nineteenth century. Concrete breathes, whereas stainless steel does not. That helps the wine become richer and more complex. It does this without creating the overpowering oakiness that can occur when wine is fermented in barrels. The resulting wine is brighter than one produced in oak, and softer and fruitier than one produced using stainless steel.

The egg-shaped tank is an innovation of this century. A small temperature difference between the top and bottom of the tank create even circulation throughout the smooth interior. Having no corners in the tank also aids in circulation and creates greater contact with the lees. This helps to develop a wine with more complexity on the nose and the palate.

The combination of the grapes and the concrete egg production makes 30A Coastal Dunes Chardonnay a beautiful wine. It is made in the style of white Burgundy. Its color is a clear straw yellow that hints at the medium body of the wine. A swirl in the glass shows legs that match its 14.3 percent alcohol content.

There is abundant fruit on the nose, while the palate exhibits apple and ripe stone fruit. There is just enough oak to impart a welcome hint of vanilla. The mouthfeel is soft and silky.

This unfined, unfiltered wine does double duty. It has a balance of acidity and fruit that makes it drinkable on its own. But it also has sufficient nuances, including a faint minerality, to pair beautifully with a myriad of seafood dishes. It makes the perfect complement to a simple pan-roasted fish, finishing the fish with a sauce using just a bit of the wine to deglaze the pan, and a touch of butter once it reduces.

30A Coastal Dunes Chardonnay is distributed by McNeese Distributing, LLC. It will be offered at 45 Central and Great Southern Café in Seaside, 723 Whiskey Bravo and Café Thirty-A in Seagrove Beach, Stinky’s Fish Camp in Dune Allen, George’s at Alys Beach, the Bay in Santa Rosa Beach, and Edward’s in Rosemary Beach by the glass or the bottle. Modica Market will also sell the wine by the glass, the bottle, and the case at a very reasonable price point: in the mid-$20 range per bottle. To keep up with the latest news about 30A Coastal Dunes wines, visit the website at 30ACoastalDunes.com.

Barnes and Modica want 30A Coastal Dunes to be a platform for preservation efforts in the 30-A area; of particular concern is the protection of the fragile coastal dune lakes. And they hope to get others involved in the company. For example, they are considering an artist series of labels for future wines (a red and a sparkler could be offered in the future). Modica says, “We want to encourage others to come on the journey with us.” With 30A Coastal Dunes Chardonnay it will be a lovely journey indeed.