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While giving back is always good, doing it in style at The Naples (Florida) Winter Wine Festival is better. Donate $10,000 a couple, or the $25,000 VIP Package–as 600 patrons do each year.
Naples Winter Wine Festival is a weekend to calendar, and many returnees do attend the perennially sold out events. Besides the considerable social cache, comradery, and gourmet food and wine that the weekend affords, the finely orchestrated series of events culminating in one-of-a-kind auction lots is worth the price of admission. Mind you, the price of each lot is extra and is not for the faint of heart or pocket. Lots typically go for hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. The mantra at the event is. “Bid high, bid often; it’s for the kids.”
The events start on Friday morning with a trip to visit the recipients of the charity, Naples Children & Education Foundation, whose grants have impacted more than 200,000 underserved children in the region since 2001. With 100% of the proceeds of the Live Auction, to date, totaling over $161 million dollars, going back directly to the residents of Collier County, the impact is tremendous.The winning bid is an exciting time at the Naples Winter Wine Festival, which has been going strong for 17 years.
Many have termed this festival the “Grand Daddy of Charitable Festivals” by the sheer volume of contributions raised each year.
Guests mingle with the irresistibly charming children, hear touching transformational success stories, and enjoy lunch with top-notch vintner pouring their wines. This whets the appetite for the exceptional evening food and wine dinners designed to showcase the high-profile culinary and vinicultural offerings that make this event such a standout on the charitable auction circuit.
The Naples Winter Wine Festival included food stations from the Ritz Carlton hotels in the area.
Think Wolfgang Puck serving as the 2017 “Chef de Cuisine” for the entire festival and add a bevy of award-winning chefs with eleven (11) Michelin stars–including Michael Tusk, the most recent Michelin 3 Star recipient from San Francisco and thirteen (13) James Beard Awards between them. These top chefs are all prepared to pull out the stops to impress their gourmet guests.
Not to be upstaged, stellar wines are served at each dinner, one being Ann Colgin’s cult cuvees. Events such as a “Ten-Vintage Tasting of Harlan Estate Wines,” including two 100-point vintages, are on offer.Here is the “Meet the Children” event where donors meet actual children in need.
The annual auction–with lots ranging from a round-the-world wine tour by private jet to a hundred-plus bottle collection, selected from the cellars of savvy collectors, offers plenty of juice for the oenophiles in-house.
Friday evening themed dinners hosted in trustee members’ homes highlight the careful collaboration between vintner and chef, the two of whom have designed impeccable food and wine pairings for the occasion. Each soiree is lavishly curated to forge friendships and inspire the desire to give generously.
Lavish dinners—with celebrity chefs such as Wolfgang Puck—are held at private homes of the Festival Trustees or friends.
Saturday morning offers the last glimpse of the auction lots before the competitive bidding begins. First, a sip of wine and lunch on the lawn prepared by the host venue, The Ritz Carlton Golf Resort Naples’ chefs and members of their fellow resorts’ kitchens . Then down to the serious business of upping fellow attendees for one-of-a-kind cars, wine lots, trips, and lifestyle packages that are presented to dazzle even the most sophisticated bidders.
The afternoon of giving is full of gregarious, spirited paddle waving and uproarious cheering for the victors. This is sport at its finest. The 63 lots finally gaveled, it’s time again to celebrate. The Wine Down After Party dances the night away, until, finally, it’s time for the closing celebratory Krug Champagne Brunch on Sunday morning. But the fun is just beginning. There is a whole year of cashing in on those coveted prizes to fund the activities of the foundation. There is the planning committee for next year’s festival that will begin work immediately. There is the lasting memory of a weekend well spent and there is the promise to see you again next year.