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Local children in Southwest Florida will benefit from more than $750,000 (net, after expenses) raised during the 2009 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, which concluded Saturday. More than $550,000 of that total came from the event’s auction, held as part of a Grand Tasting and Auction at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club.

“We were concerned going in,” said Steve Machiz, M.D., Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest founding chairman. “But we had the right items up for auction and, more importantly, the right people among our patrons, bidding generously.”

Professional Auctioneer Scott Robertson, of Cushman and Wakefield Commercial Real Estate Brokers, and Voiceover Artist Randy Thomas guided several hundred attendees through Saturday’s bidding and festivities. Along with the auction, 14 local chefs joined 16 wineries and distributors in the event’s Grand Tasting of wine and food.

“People who attended our tasting and auction were definitely in the spirit of stepping up and doing the right thing,” said Auctioneer Scott Robertson. “The people there were as extraordinary as the items up for bid.”

A telling point of the evening was an auction item that would fund purchase of an incubator for the Neonatal Unit at The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, valued at $45,000. Multiple bidders pledged their support, and the item raised more than $150,000 to purchase not one, but three of the highly specialized pieces of equipment.

Northern Trust Bank was the main sponsor of the 2009 Wine & Food fest. Along with Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club, other supporters of the event included Lee Memorial Health System Foundation, Grandeur Magazine, Saks Fifth Avenue, Specialty Risk Management and Private Client Insurance Services, Oswald Trippe, Pure High Net Wealth Insurance, Edison State College, Bank of Florida, Norman Love Confections, Angelina’s Ristorante, Palm Printing and Strategic Solutions.

The Wine & Food Fest Grand Tasting and Auction was held in the Beach Clubhouse at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club and its outdoor waterfront venue.

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. This year’s funding will benefit the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and the Pediatric Nursing program at Edison State College.

For more information and more photos of the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, or to watch for information about the 2010 event: or 239-432-9722.