For the past 18 years, the Naples Winter Wine Festival (NWWF) has been a weekend extravaganza in January with celebrity chefs putting forth their creative impulses and vintners pouring the globe’s finest wines—coupled with eye-popping displays of philanthropy directed at Collier County’s children most in need.
On the heels of the second-highest-grossing live auction in festival history, the organization governing it, the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), along with the 2018 festival chairs (three couples this go-round: Becky and Lewie Card, Susie and David McCurry, and Kathy and Dan Mezzalingua) just announced this year’s headliners for the Jan. 26-28 “All You Need is Love”-themed affair. They will be chef Gary Danko of his eponymous Restaurant Gary Danko as the chef de cuisine, and David and Karynne Duncan of Silver Oak and Twomey as the honored vintners.
The titles are indeed honorary, as all of the participants who make the trek to the Paradise Coast will donate their time, skills and goods (the rest will likely be named in September), but they’re meant to recognize years of service to the cause.
Danko, who has won the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: California” title and has received years of consecutive Michelin stars, has cooked on-site once before and contributed to multiple auction lots over the past decade.
David and Karynne Duncan
David Duncan, president and CEO of Silver Oak since 2002, has led the cellar and its sister offering, Twomey, to become one of Napa’s and Alexander Valley’s highest producers of consistently top-rated Cabernets (the Oakville tasting room recently became the world’s first LEED platinum-certified winery and a new tasting room is under construction in the Sonoma region just north of Healdsburg). He and his wife, Karynne, in addition to seven years of participating in the NWWF, were the co-chairs of the 2014 Auction Napa Valley with NCEF trustees Valerie and Jeff Gargiulo.
For a chance to rub elbows with them and the 500-plus other participants and attendees in January, tickets for couples start at $10,000. But to experience that level of epicurean entertainment (with philanthropy never out of sight) is priceless.