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A Good Vintage for Southwest Florida’s Wine Festivals

The Naples Winter Wine Festival was named the top auction in the country—and both it and the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest have laid groundwork for another successful year.

BY June 10, 2016


Wine festival season has wrapped and we can hear the celebratory bang of a champagne cork: The Naples Winter Wine Festival was named the best charity wine auction in the country for the 10th time since it launched in 2001, edging out Auction Napa Valley in total dollar amounts raised during live bidding.

The 2017 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest chairs

The list, tracked by Wine Spectator, based the numbers on the 2015 festival. The 2016 event in January carried the torch, and the Naples Children & Education Foundation (the nonprofit that manages and distributes the funds raised by the Naples Winter Wine Festival) held its check presentation ceremony on March 14 at Bay Colony Golf Club to distribute upward of $11 million through grants to more than 30 local charities. Just this week, we saw in real time the good deeds at work with the opening of Ability Field on the Greater Naples YMCA campus ($100,000 was donated by the NCEF to fund its construction and even more to its ongoing maintenance).Our other bachannal opus that does wonders for the community and is a force to be reckoned with, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, also stayed strong in the national rankings, coming in fourth on the Wine Spectator list after raising $3.3 million in 2015—most of which will fund the construction of the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

Both have already started to lay the groundwork for another stellar vintage. 

The 2017 NWWF co-chairs. Photo by Louis Venne

The NWWF’s 2017 festival, channeling optimism with the theme “Bright Sunshiny Day,” will be held Jan. 27-29 and will be chaired for the first time by a team of four couples, most of whom have experience chairing the event in the past: Jeff Gargiulo and Valerie Boyd, Bill and Debra Cary, Brian and Denise Cobb, and Scott and Simone Lutgert. 

Southwest Florida Children’s Charities, which organizes the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, announced this week that Christin Collins and Debbie Toler will chair its celebration on Feb. 24-25 next year.

Seeing how both festivals have grown exponentially since their start, we are sure 2017 will be bright and sunshiny for both.   


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