Enjoy food and wine poolside before the auction action — Photo courtesy of Gina BIrch
Since the inaugural event in Fort Myers seven years ago, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest has grown to be one of the top rated wine auctions in the country, generating 12.8 million dollars for pediatric healthcare.
One of the most anticipated and exciting events every February for food and wine lovers, the two-day festival opens with exclusive vintner dinners in private homes on the 26th. Individual hosts pick entertaining themes while award-winning chefs team up with a participating winery to provide an exquisite night out.
The big event takes place the next day, February 27, at the beautiful Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club. Local chefs and restaurants bring their A-game, creating stunning small bites for the poolside Grand Tasting.
Winemakers and winery owners are also on hand, pouring their popular blends and varietals; a fantastic opportunity to discover new wines and learn more about the ones you love, from the men and women who make it.
The best chefs in Southwest Florida volunteer their talents for this annual event — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
The chic setting overlooks a man-made beach, and live music accompanies your progression from table to table full of delectable dishes and refreshing beverages.
Once attendees have been satiated with food, wine and ambiance, the party moves inside for a rousing auction full of exotic trips, rare wine lots and unique culinary experiences.
Wines from around the world are generously sampled at the Grand Tasting — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
The biggest buzz this year comes through a new online auction platform. If you can’t attend in person, you can still get in on the fun with a package that has music lovers salivating.
The bassist for legendary rock group AC/DC, Cliff Williams, calls Fort Myers home. A big supporter of the wine fest, Williams is donating one of only five guitars he takes on the road with him to the lot called “Let There Be Rock.”
The winning bidder not only gets Williams’ signed bass, but also a one-of-a-kind pendant from award-winning jeweler, Mark Loren Designs. The reversible piece is designed around one of the musician's guitar picks.
The front has 18k yellow gold with black diamond pave, ruby marquise and blackened gold. The back is pave set with fancy yellow diamonds, accented with blue pear-shaped sapphires, all suspended from one of William’s bass guitar strings. It’s quite a statement piece.
The live auction lots generate great excitement and lots of money — Photo courtesy of Southwest Florida Food & Wine Fest
The energy at the live auction is immeasurable, with friends combining assets, others running up the tab on the over-the-top items up for grabs. The sport of it keeps people coming back year after year and is why bidders are enthusiastic about raising their paddles, spending tens of thousands of dollars for dream vacations, exclusive dining soirees and rare wines.
Some of the notable items on the 2016 auction lot include an adventurous safari in Kenya and Tanzania, and a river boat cruise down the Danube or the Seine in Europe or one on the Mekong in Vietnam. For the sportsmen, bid on tickets to the Ryder Cup, skiing in Vail or a sport fishing charter in Costa Rica.
Wine related packages include a collection of bottles that have been awarded the coveted 100-point rating from famed wine critic Robert Parker. There are also several unique wine country travel packages on the auction block, making the possibilities nearly endless to score a big prize while helping improve the health of kids.
Excitement at the auction is contagious — Photo courtesy of Southwest Florida Food & Wine Fest
100% of the proceeds go to Southwest Florida Children’s Charities, an organization that gives generously to the Golisano Children’s Hospital and provides scholarships and pediatric education programs at Fort Myers area colleges and universities.
Tickets for the 2016 Grand Tasting and auction are $750 a person. The price goes up to $1500 to participate in the private vintner’s dinners.