We’ve discovered a new Labor Day tradition—the exquisite Food & Wine Festival hosted by the historic Pinehurst Resort, an annual event that just celebrated its 23rd birthday and has become a fall highlight of the South.

The Pinehurst Resort was originally purchased in 1895 as a winter retreat at just $1/acre. Today the renowned resort stands for exceptional class as one of North Carolina’s most treasured estates with an extensive luxury spa, exceptional attention to trend setting cuisine and stately accommodations. Oh, and Pinehurst boasts an absolutely incredibly golf course…but more on that next time.

Many of the world’s rich and famous have crossed the thresholds of Pinehurst – the usual 1900’s society crowd included the Rockefellers, DuPont’s and Morgan’s, to name a few. Amelia Earhart landed her plane at the resort’s airstrip and Annie Oakley taught hundreds how to shoot here.

The Pinehurst Resort added the Food & Wine Festival to their roster of annual events two decades ago and it has since become a new part of the old resort’s traditions. The event helps festivalgoers learn the ins and outs of modern wine making methods, the process of the blind taste, and, most importantly, how to figure out what you like to sip best!

The focus of the festival is on new trends in the wine industry, so while it is for the well versed connoisseurs it’s also very novice friendly, showcasing some of North Carolina’s best kept secrets (as well as plenty of prestige wines from across the pond and beyond).

Events like the overwhelming opening Wine & Dine reception featuring tastings by Resort Executive Chef Thierry Debailleul and the Pigs & Pinot seminar led by Luis Torres, world renowned sommelier, make the weekend more memorable than any other Labor Day BBQ you’ve ever bothered to show up to.

The resort itself includes three accommodations to choose from, including The Carolina, a luxe hotel that opened in 1901 and was instantly dubbed the “Queen of the South”. If you’d like to step away from the crowds you can always have an intimate dinner for two at the refined 1895 Grille or chill out at the relaxed Ryder’s Cup Lounge with spot on steak and pommes frites. Between seminars head to the spa, a blissful place of total relaxtion and much needed rejuvenation (especially after drinking vino all day).

Next time you want to find the heart of the Carolinas, travel to the Sandhills of North Carolina to Pinehurst Village where the evergreens canopy the roads and fresh pine fills the air. And mark your calendar for next year’s showdown…this festival has promised to outdo itself once again for its 24th year in 2012.