The Charleston Wine + Food Festival is now easily the most significant event on the city's culinary calendar. But when the festival started, its founder didn't envision a $2 million operating budget and 23,000 guests.

"When the thought of a food and wine festival in the city was first discussed (in 2004), there were only a dozen or so restaurants/chefs paving the way," former director Angel Postell wrote on her blog when she announced her resignation last spring.

Still, a few community leaders rallied behind the festival concept, and arranged for South Beach Wine & Food Festival founder Lee Schrager to meet with a group of Charlestonians, including Postell.

The first festival was held in 2006.

"Our first year was really cool," Postell recently told The Post and Courier. "I hate that we can't go back to that model. We had open-air tents with artisans, farmers, a great group of people. Our second year was such a mess: It just became more a tasting trade show kind of thing. But the first year was just like a storybook almost."

The festival was forced to change its name in 2009, from Food + Wine to Wine + Food.

The flip-flop was the result of a trademark challenge by American Express, which owns Food & Wine magazine and a similar festival in Colorado, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

Hanna Raskin