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2012 Wine Fest ranked #3 in the nation

Fort Myers, Fla. ÔÇô March 29, 2013) – The Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, the signature event of Southwest Florida Children’s Charities, is now one of the top charitable wine festivals in the nation according to Wine Spectator Magazine. This is the first time that the local wine festival has been in the magazine’s top 10. The Top Ten Charity Wine Auctions of 2012 appears in the April issue of the magazine. In 2012, The Southwest Florida Wine and Food Fest, the youngest auction in the top 10, ranked number three among the nation’s best charity wine auctions, raising $1,558,500 in live auction bids. According to the publication, the event has raised more than $5.25 million for Southwest Florida Children’s Charities since its inception in 2009.

The 2012 event featured Benovia Winery as the signature vintner as well as fine cuisine prepared by more than a dozen of Southwest Florida’s finest chefs. The two-day event began with Vintner dinners held in private homes throughout the region on Friday evening. Saturday afternoon, the event concluded with the Grand Tasting and Live Auction at Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club.

“We strive to make this event one that is enjoyable for all of our guests, as well as something that sparks their interest, encouraging people to open their hearts and their wallets,” says event chairman Steve Machiz, M.D. “Each year the auction packages have become more enticing, causing bidders to ramp up their bids on auction items. The live auction, with a skilled, professional auctioneer, in a beautiful setting at Miromar Lakes along with lively music and a fun atmosphere are also key to making this a successful fundraising event.”

The 2013 event, held on February 23 of this year was even more successful, surpassing the $2-million mark for the first time.

The event is held at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club and Northern Trust is the title sponsor. Other sponsors include Palm Printing/Printers Ink, Angelina’s Ristorante as signature vintner sponsor, Norman Love Confections and media sponsors Gulfshore Life and Gulfshore Business, and Grandeur.

Next year’s event will be held on the weekend of February 21 and 22, 2014.

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 about the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, visit

Read the Wine Spectator story below.

Lizzie Munro
Wine Spectator Issue: April 30, 2013
Though few charity wine auctions have set record highs since 2007, 2012 proved to be a promising year, with auction organizers quick to cite the steady growth and relative consistency of the market as reasons for encouragement. The combined total of the 10 highest-earning events by way of live auction bidding was $26,311,920, up 12 percent over last year, and up 60 percent over the $15,874,215 raised in 2009.

Perhaps the most notable feature of the 2012 list is that four of the highest-grossing auctions are new to the top 10: the Southwest Florida Wine and Food Fest, the Lyric Opera of Chicago Wine Auction, the Harmony Gala for the St. Helena Hospital Foundation, and the Destin Charity Wine Auction. The Lyric Opera of Chicago Wine Auction, which has been held once every three years since 1988, and the Harmony Gala, which began in 1994, both experienced record-setting sales in 2012, raising $962,300 and $928,000, respectively, in live-auction bids.

The Southwest Florida Wine and Food Fest, the youngest auction in the top 10, raised $1,558,500 in live auction bids this year, and has donated a grand total of $5.25 million in net proceeds since its inception in 2009. Likewise, the seventh annual Destin Charity Wine Auction raised $894,620 in live bids up from $674,000 in 2011 and has contributed $1,220,188 in net proceeds to children’s charities in northwest Florida.

“In 2007 we donated $457,000 [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][in total proceeds], and in 2012, it was $1.22 million. To me that’s just unbelievable growth,” said John Russell, the event’s president.
The Naples Winter Wine Festival, the top-earning auction this year, posted a relatively small gain in 2012 for a total of $11,880,000. Once again, Naples garnered the two largest live-auction bids: A private concert for 100 people with LeAnn Rimes, accompanied by a wine dinner prepared by chef Tom Colicchio, sold for $1.1 million, while a collection of eight rare bottles of Chateau Haut-Brion, plus six bottles each of the 2010 Haut-Brion Blanc and Haut-Brion Rouge, sold twice at $550,000.
The second highest-grossing wine lot, a 9-liter bottle of Marchesi Antinori Guado al Tasso Bolgheri 2007, was the Grand Champion Wine this year at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, selling for $211,000.

“We had even greater enthusiasm this year,” said executive director Joel Cowley. “We set records on the Champion and the Reserve Best of Show wines. That got us off to a great start, and it just did not let up until the last gavel fell.”

But while some auctions saw notable increases in their live auction totals this year, others were met with challenges. In 2012, many of the supporters of the V Foundation, including board member and Team USA basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, were unavailable, as they were participating in the summer Olympics in London.
“We were concerned because it was the first time we’ve felt in competition with an event,” said executive director Jane Brovelli. “But it just made us work a little harder and it turned out to be really successful.”

Looking at early numbers for 2013, the Naples Winter Wine Festival brought in $8.6 million in its live auction, several million dollars shy of the 2012 total. Auction organizers, however, are far from discouraged. According to festival chair Bob Edwards, the event, which began in 2001, is still growing and maturing.
But perhaps with age comes consistency in the world of charity wine auctions. 2012 marked the 20th anniversary for the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. “At this point I’m very happy to have inherited a well-oiled machine,” said Cate Candler Singerman, who has managed the event since 2011.


The Naples Winter Wine Festival- Local children’s charities Naples, Fla. $11,880,000

Auction Napa Valley- Health, children’s education and affordable housing St. Helena, Calif. $5,014,000

Southwest Florida Wine and Food Fest- The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida Miromar Lakes, Fla. $1,558,500

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo- Local educational and agricultural programs Houston $1,411,500

Rusty Staub- The Rusty Staub Foundation Emergency Food Program New York $1,282,000

High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction- The High Museum of Art Atlanta $1,257,000

V Foundation Wine Celebration -The Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research Oakville, Calif. $1,124,000

Lyric Opera of Chicago Wine Auction- The Lyric Opera of Chicago Chicago $962,300

Harmony Gala- St. Helena Hospital Foundation St. Helena, Calif. $928,000

Destin Charity Wine Auction- Children’s charities in northwest Florida Destin, Fla. $894,620[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]