Wine and Food Festivals Taking Place in Florida
Get out your calendars because with the start to the new year there’s a fresh calendar to fill in with fantastic events in the nearby area–namely, wine and food events. You already know that the best way to learn about wines is to drink them. Attending a wine and food festival is the perfect opportunity to try a wide variety of wines, talk to the winery representatives to ask questions and learn new things, and have an enjoyable day or evening that is oftentimes for a good cause.
If you haven’t been to a festival before, here’s a brief summary of what to expect and a list of notable ones in the surrounding area. For the most updated information and news check back on each event’s website.
Support a Good Cause
While each festival is unique in its own way, almost all support a worthy charity or cause, so you can feel good about your ticket purchase.
Some festivals offer designated driver tickets at a reduced cost or you can opt to take a car service like Uber or a taxi to/from. For most events, there are a choice of nearby or host hotels offering special room rates for festival goers. When tasting wine, you can also swirl and spit. On the tables, you will see a bucket for exactly this reason.
Each event and their venue(s) vary. Some can include gala-like festivities and more formal dinners and auctions, those will be noted when purchasing tickets. There is usually a one-day grand tasting where renowned chefs and wine representation are showcasing and pouring their best examples of their fare and products. For this part of the festivals, attire is casual elegant—comfortable yet with a bit of effort. Probably best to leave whites at home, unless you’re brave and have a good dry cleaner.
2018 Wine Festivals and Events
January 26-28, 2018
Ringling Museum, Sarasota
This wine event has become so popular, tickets to the Grand Tasting sell out in seven minutes flat, so you have to be quick to purchase or know someone who has already gotten tickets. This multi-day festival kicks off on Friday with winemaker events and culminates on Sunday with a grand tasting.
On Saturday, you can get an education at the Forks & Corks University. This is an informational series where renowned winemakers delve deeper into the topic in a more intimate setting conducive for Q&A. It includes a four-course lunch with wine pairings so you can taste and learn.
On Sunday, the Grand Tasting takes place on the beautiful grounds of the Ringling Museum. This is where you can use your knowledge to taste over 350 top-rated wines from around the globe paired with delectable bites from Sarasota-Manatee Originals’ restaurants. Also look for special pop-up tastings at area wine shops as part of the festival.
Proceeds from this event support The Ringling Foundation, All Faiths Food Bank, and other local non-profits. To date, Forks & Corks has raised nearly $500,000 to benefit local charities.
For more information please visit, www.eatlikealocal.com/forksandcorks.
March 2-3, 2018
Quail West Golf & Country Club Naples
This annual fundraising event to support the SWFL Children’s Charities will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in its new location in Naples. This may be one of the most posh events and kicks off on Friday with Chefs Vintner’s Dinners where local and celebrity chefs’ cuisine is paired with exclusive and fine wines in private residences throughout Lee and Collier counties.
The celebration continues on Saturday with a Grand Tasting of chefs’ signature creations and extraordinary wines. Here, you can participate in a live auction of rare travel experiences and opportunities to help fund a children’s cause. End the day with a newly-added Dessert After Glow reception with local Norman Love chocolates and specialities from celebrity pastry chefs.
The dollars raised stay locally and support immediate and long-term pediatric projects and programs. One hundred percent of contributions made during the two-day event support Golisano Children’s Hospital, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Florida SouthWestern State College.
For more information please visit, www.swflwinefest.org
April 28-29, 2018
Alan Shepard Park
This one is worth a short road trip to the East Coast for what they call “Wine in your hand, toes in the sand.” Celebrating its second year, this festival includes food, wines, and craft beer. It’s the sister event of the established Clearwater Beach Uncorked.
The two-day event takes place in a relaxed beachfront setting under a 20,000-square-foot Grand Tasting Village with cooking demonstrations and chef competitions along with tastings of Central Florida’s renowned chefs’ cuisines, top-rated craft beer, and fine wine. The Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront is a partnering sponsor, check the website for special room rates that may be available.
A percentage of event revenue will benefit Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Brevard County Humane Society.
For more information please visit, http://cocoabeachuncorked.com/cocoa/
November 8-9, 2018
Longboat Key Club
The annual Bacchus on the Beach Stone Crab Celebration & Winemaker Auction is a three-part event which begins on Thursday with special wine dinners and continues on Friday with day-time seminars for the participant looking to delve deeper into the education side of wine. On Friday evening guests can take in the pristine beachside setting of Longboat Key while enjoying the season’s best stone crabs to accompany exquisite wines and local craft beer. They call it a “feast for food lovers and wine aficionados.”
There is a one-of-a-kind live auction showcasing exceptional wines, travel, and adventure and dinner packages. The beneficiary is the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.
For more information please visit, www.longboatkeyclub.com
*December 2018, date TBD
Wyndham Grand Resort
The established older sibling to the Cocoa Beach Uncorked, in its sixth year, this event is a little closer to home. Tammy Gail is the producer of this all women-owned and operated occasion which is considered the “hippest beach-front gastronomic event on Florida’s west coast.”
The interactive festival includes a Grand Tasting Village where participants will be able to vote for their favorites for the following categories: Foodie Favorite, Best Brew, Best Wine, and Best Décor.
At this laid-back event, you can literally have your toes in the sugar-white sand as you sip and savor fine wine and exceptional cuisine. A percentage of the ticket sales will benefit local charities.
The event is hosted at the Wyndham Resort with special rates for attendees, but if you want to up the ante on your Clearwater weekend experience consider staying up the street at the beachfront Opal Sands Resort, a true four-star experience. Take in the panoramic water views in an upscale beach-chic setting with three dining options which offer special reserve wines by the glass, a full-service spa, and stunning art displayed throughout the resort. Check their website for updated information, www.clearwaterbeachuncorked.com