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Signature Vintner’s Challenge Takes Wine Fest Over the Top
2012 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest Nets Record $2 million

(March 7, 2012- Fort Myers, Fla.) — The 2012 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, held on February 24 and 25 at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club, raised a record-breaking $2 million (net, after expenses) thanks to Joe Anderson of Benovia Winery. In the final minutes, Anderson made a $100,000 pledge and inspired dozens of generous bidders to make additional donations.
The proceeds of the event will be donated directly to three charities benefiting children’s health care in our area. The weekend started with nine Chef Vintner dinners held the evening before in host homes from Naples, Miromar Lakes, and Bonita Springs to Fort Myers.

Special touches and exciting auction lots included the NFL Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders dancing and igniting the auction goers, the celebrity of AC/DC bass player Cliff Williams, an appearance by a Danica Patrick look-a-like, the trip of a lifetime to Cuba including mass with Pope Benedict XVI and a VIP trip to Benovia Winery in Sonoma Valley.

This year’s ‘Fund A Cause’ surpassed all expectations by raising more than $400,000 to purchase GE Giraffe baby incubators for The Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Over the past three years generous Wine Fest patrons have given enough to purchase seven of these specially equipped beds that mimic the motherÔÇÖs womb. This year’s ‘Fund A Cause’ will provide an additional nine incubators.

The signature painting created by 7 year old oncology patient Olivia Ramsey, generated $125,000 in donations. The original piece will be donated back to the hospital and featured along with previous years’ child art on a wall named in memory of Jerry Schmoyer, long-time supporter of Wine Fest who lost his battle with cancer last year.

Professional Auctioneer Scott Robertson, Voiceover Artist Chris Corley, and NBC-2’s Kellie Burns guided several hundred attendees through Saturday’s bidding and festivities at the Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club. Along with the auction, local chefs joined more than a dozen wineries and distributors in the event’s Grand Tasting of wine and food.

The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida will receive the majority of the proceeds from this year’s event as the primary beneficiary. Edison State College and Florida Gulf Coast University will receive donations to support Edison’s pediatric nursing program and FGCU’s music therapy program.

“We exceeded our expectations again this year, thanks to our very philanthropic supporters. We netted $1.6 million last year,” said Steve Machiz, M.D., Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest founding chairman. “The trustees, dinner hosts, wineries, chefs and donors really stepped up to take this event truly over the top. I am always amazed by the generosity of the wonderful people attending Wine Fest.”

Northern Trust was the title sponsor of the 2012 Wine & Food Fest. Along with Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club, other supporters of the event included Norman Love Confections, Angelina’s Ristorante, and Palm Printing – Strategic Solutions. Media sponsors were The News-Press, Grandeur Magazine, Gulfshore Life, Gulfshore Business and Florida Weekly.

The Wine & Food Fest Grand Tasting and Auction was held in the award-winning Beach Clubhouse at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club and its outdoor waterfront venue. Miromar Lakes was recently selected at the Best Community in the United States by the National Association of Home Builders, and as Best Clubhouse last year by the same prestigious organization.

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. For more information and more photos of the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest visit or call 239-278-3900