It’s not just the biggest philanthropic event in Naples; it’s the No. 1 charity wine auction in the world.
Many eyes, from Port Royal to Napa and beyond, will be fixated on the 20th Naples Winter Wine Festival as plans unfold and the star-studded weekend goes into high gear Jan. 24-26, 2020. This year, three local couples are chairing it and promise to make it one for the history books: Barbie and Paul Hills, Nancy and Joe Masterson, and Shirley and Peter Welsh. The theme they’ve announced today is “Celebrate: 20 Years of Cheers!”
As Barbie Hills said at the final event of the 2019 festival, where the group had been called onstage to give festivalgoers a sneak preview of what was to come, “2020 is our 20th, so you bet we’re going to make it big.”
They should have no problem doing that. The celebration of fine vintages, haute cuisine and tear-jerking calls for bidding high and bidding often at the live auction held each Saturday of the festival continues to be nothing short of awe-inspiring, especially given how much has been accomplished in the span of just two decades. Wine world royalty like Olivier Krug and Marchese Piero Antinori have repeatedly donated priceless pours and rubbed elbows with celebrity chefs, including Tom Colicchio and Wolfgang Puck, who have flown in to cook for guests. Most impressively, more than $191 million has been raised for the Naples Children & Education Foundation, a nonprofit the festival created that grants money to Collier County children’s service organizations, as paddles have flown up in years past to purchase big-ticket auction lots like private tours of Bordeaux with the vintners who make First Growth wines, tickets to the Tony Awards, private jam-sessions with the band Chicago, and intimate wine dinners in the company of actor Kevin Bacon.