This weekend is the fabulous annual Naples Winter Wine Festival. Naples Airport is undoubtedly prepared for the onslaught of private jets bringing guests, chefs and vintners from all over the country and the rest of the world to attend the festival. I can assure you that Saks Fifth Avenue and Marissa Collections are all aflutter in an attempt to get all the female attendees perfectly clothed for this world-renowned, three-day charity event. And I am quite certain the hair and nail salons around town are booked from morning to night as well.
For those of you who have not had the chance to attend the Wine Festival, allow me to give you a brief synopsis of the three days. It starts on Friday with the chance to see the various children’s charities that benefit from the money donated over the weekend. More important, attendees have the opportunity to meet many of the children associated with these charities—a truly heart-warming experience. Afterwards, there is a luncheon at the lovely Hamilton Harbor Yacht Club, where delicious foods and extraordinary wines whet appetites for the festivities to come.
Friday night is all about the Vintner Dinners, held in the grand Naples homes of the festival’s trustees to delight guests who arrive by chauffer-driven cars to dine on food prepared by the finest chefs in the nation and drink the some of the best wines ever made. The dinners consist of several courses and last well into the late night/early morning hours. The word that comes to mind: Unforgettable.
The truly exciting day is Saturday. Again, beautifully coiffed and clothed women and handsome men arrive at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples at 11:00 a.m. to begin the day with fabulous wines and foods prepared by Ritz-Carlton chefs from all over Florida. At 1:00 p.m., the auction starts. I can safely say there is nothing quite like the Naples Winter Wine Festival Auction. Some of the most generous people in the country—many of them our Naples neighbors—bid huge sums on the magnificent auction lots. The auctioneers work at a frenzied pace as the bids come from everywhere inside the huge tent as the volunteers in the audience act like cheerleaders, encouraging attendees to “bid high, bid often—it’s for the kids.” And they always do.
The “Wine Down” party follows at The Ritz with more great food, wine and music to celebrate how much the children of Naples and surrounding areas will benefit from the auction.
Finally, on Sunday morning—late Sunday morning—the festival attendees, at least those who manage to drag themselves out of bed after yet another spectacular event, are treated to Bloody Marys, Champagne, even more wine and an incredible brunch at The Ritz. During brunch, the final tally of the funds raised during the auction is announced and the chairs for the next festival are presented.
This year’s Naples Winter Wine Festival theme is “Believe in the Magic,” which could not be more appropriate. The generous individuals who are behind the event and those who attend will certainly make magic for so many children in Southwest Florida.
(Photos courtesy of Naples Children & Education Foundation, www.napleswinefestival.com)