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(Fort Myers, FL- January 21, 2011) –The trustees of The Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest have announced its lineup of chefs and vintners participating in the upcoming weekend event to be held on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25 and 26. 19 chefs will join 9 wineries and 3 wine distributors in the event, which features Chef Vintner dinners at select homes on Friday evening, February 25, and a Grand Tasting and Auction on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 26 at Miromar Lakes Beach Club. The Wine & Food Fest benefits local children’s charities.

“The pairing of wine and food is an important culinary concept and is the cornerstone of the Wine & Food Fest,” said Steve Machiz, M.D., Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest founding chairman. “We are thrilled by the caliber of our chefs and restaurants, the diversity of their culinary styles and their interest in serving the community.”

From local area restaurants, chefs Norman Love and Nathaniel Reid from Norman Love Confections, Angelina’s Ristorante, Marbin Alvirez from Bayfront Bistro, Jason Grasty from Roy’s Restaurant, Thomas Pedit from Miromar Lakes Beach Club, Michael Ragusa from the Sandy Butler, Jayson Rydell from Flipper’s on the Bay/Lovers Key Resort, Shannon Yates from Lush, Christian Vivet from Blue Windows Bistro, Andreas Singer from the Hyatt Coconut, Andre Gratesol from French Bread Oven, and Caroline Hostettler from Quality Cheese, Inc., will be featured in the Grand Tasting and Auction on Saturday.

Alvirez, Angelina’s, Grasty and Love join chefs Harold Balink from Cru, Fabrizio Aielli from Sea Salt, Todd Johnson from Rumrunners, Derin Moore from Ritz Carlton/Naples Beach Resort, Nathaniel Reed from Norman Love Confections, Brian Roland from M Waterfront Grille and Melissa Talmage from Sweet Melissa’s in preparing Chef Vintner dinners on Friday evening.

Like its first name, The 2011 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest will also host a number of special, featured wineries.

“We have raised the bar again this year but we also go below the radar with some of the invited wineries,” said Machiz. “Our wines are so good and some of their production is so limited, we’re privileged to offer these ‘secret Napa wines’ at our Chef Vintner dinners and Grand Tasting.”

The Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest is pleased to feature these very fine wineries:

Staglin Winery

Our 2011 Signature Vintners, Garen and Shari Staglin have helped raise over $725 million for important causes all over the country. They have also earned a richly-deserved reputation for quality, elegance, and putting in a bottle everything that’s right, wonderful, and meaningful about wine, receiving stratospheric ratings by every major critic on the planet, including an uncanny 98-point rating from Wine Spectator for their 2007 Rutherford 25th Anniversary Selection Cabernet Sauvignon. Most of their wines are so good they sell out instantly, so this weekend is an excellent opportunity to sample them and enjoy.

Taittinger Reims

Our 2011 Champagne Reception sponsor, Taittinger is a grand marque of French champagne, one of the few still controlled by members of the family that founded it (in 1930). It’s one of the most visitor-friendly champagne houses. The Romanesque cellars were dug from the site of Gallo-Roman chalk mines in use from the 4th to the 13th century.

Benovia Winery

Located on the west side of Route 12, just southwest of Healdsburg in the Sonoma Valley, Joe Anderson and Mary Dewane produce very limited quantities of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.  Even though the winery was established a few short years ago, the wines have received outstanding reviews from just about every wine critic and publication in the country.

Production of all wines is around 3,000 cases a year making them a rare treat, indeed.

Justin Winery

Founded by Justin and Deborah Baldwin in 1981, this Paso Robles winery enjoys a magical combination of soil and climate that produces big, bold wines with tons of finesse. The Baldwins, inspired by the great wines of Bordeaux, produce traditional Bordeaux blends that get plenty of points from the critics. Their JUST Inn restaurant is another supreme achiement, garnering 4 stars, three forks, and every other kind of iconic praise that the travel industry can bestow.

V Madrone

Chris Tilley is one of those rare (and fortunate) people who was actually born and raised in Napa Valley. In fact, he graduated from St. Helena High School. Along with his wife Pauline, they have returned to their roots (or rootstock) and established their winery directly on Route 29 just south of Calistoga. Over the past few years they’ve expanded their excellent offerings from a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon to a Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and a Chardonnay that’s so good they can’t keep any of it for themselves.

Fisher Vineyards

The Fishers have supported our event for several years, donating their excellent Cabernets and Chardonnays, as well as elegant and gracious hospitality at their showplace winery high up in the mountains between the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Their flagship Coach Insignia Cabernet is a favorite among wine lovers (and wine critics). They currently farm several vineyards on their mountain property, and 57 acres on the Silverado Trail adjacent to the famed Eisele Vineyard. Juelle and her husband Fred encourage their children Whitney, Cameron, and Robert in their efforts to continue the family tradition.

Silver Oak

Silver Oak wines are sort of like Sara Lee cakes. Nobody doesn’t love them.We love them, too. Unlike most winemaking enterprises, the owners of Silver Oak dedicate themselves to producing only top-quality Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley and Napa Valley. This is the third year that Tom Johnson, the winery’s Ambassador Emiritus, is joining us to pour Silver Oak’s elegant Cabernets, and the very fine Merlots from the company’s Twomey winery.

Tablas Creek

We’re pleased to welcome back Tablas Creek, since their wines were such a sensation at last year’s event. The winery is owned by the folks from Chateau Beaucastel in Chateauneuf du Pape, and their California wines, made in the grand tradition of the Southern Rhone, offer the same sophistication, elegance, and grace.

Villa Erbice

Just east of the picturesque city of Verona, in the town of Mezzane, the Erbice family established their winery in the 1870s. Since then, they’ve crafted wines that truly capture the soil and the soul of this unique region. The red wines, bottled under the Valpolicella designation, are blends of well-known indigenous grapes. And if you like Soave, you’ll love the whites of this family’s winemaking heritage.

Patz & Hall

When four people who really like each other decide to make wine together, great things can happen. It’s true of Donald Patz, James Hall, Anne Moses and Heather Patz, who joined forces to establish Patz & Hall in 1988 and turn it into one of California’s most celebrated wineries. Specializing in single-vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, they source their fruit from the finest vineyards, then craft the wines with a passion and dedication that borders on the obsessive. Their wines consistently receive 90+ ratings from the critics.

Northern Trust Bank is the title sponsor of the 2011 Wine & Food fest. Along with Miromar Lakes Beach Club, other supporters of the event include News-Press Media Group, Gulfshore Media, Saks Fifth Avenue, Norman Love Confections, Angelina’s Ristorante, Palm Printing and Strategic Solutions.

The Wine & Food Fest Grand Tasting and Auction will be held in the Beach Clubhouse at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club and its outdoor waterfront venue. Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club is a residential waterfront resort community with over 700 acres of contiguous aquamarine freshwater lakes, three miles of private, white sandy beach and ‘Signature’ championship golf. Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club is located in Miromar Lakes, just north of Naples.

The Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest is a signature event of the SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides funding to local charities serving local children. The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is this year’s beneficiary and secondary beneficiaries are Edison State College’s pediatric nursing program, and Florida Gulf Coast University’s pre-med endowment for scholarship for a local student interested in studying pediatrics.

For more information about Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest: or information on sponsorship or ticket sales, call 239-278-3900.