How quickly the long-anticipated Naples Winter Wine Festival comes and goes, and once again, toping its own world record raising $16.5 million dollars for an assortment of deserving charities benefiting the underprivileged children in Southwest Florida. Talk about kicking it up a notch, every year it gets better and better, with more and more famous chefs and celebrities than ever. The festival has quickly become the most significant charity wine festival in the world and has raised a staggering amount of money over the few short years of its existence.
The Naples Airport, already the 3rd busiest private jet airport in the world was bustling as some 160 private jets flew in Friday from all over the globe with an array of important people, the chefs, as well as Hank Aaron and other famous sports celebrities. This year, as he has for the past three years, Emeril Lagasse cooked up a storm, this time at the home of Ken & Grace Evenstad of Port Royal, while Wolfgang Puck entertained diners at Jim & Linda Molones’ Bay Colony mansion. In all there were some 18 pre-auction dinners on Friday evening, with each cooked by a world-famous chef and his or her staff, held at some of the most prominent homes in Naples. Vintners from all over the globe brought in wines for every palate, from the rarest of the rare to some newer vintages.
The auction took place on Saturday, as it normally does at the Ritz-Carlton, as bidders worked themselves into a frenzy bidding on lot packages ranging from fancy wines to trips around the world to exotic automobiles. The highest amount bid was for a 2008 Rolls-Royce Drop Convertible, the very first of its kind delivered to North America. (There will only be 200 made by Rolls-Royce). The car brought $2,000,000, bid by Raymond Lutgert, founder of the Naples-based Lutgert Cos, once again setting a Winter Wine Festival record for the highest single bis ever.
What a time was had by all in attendance, the fun, frivolity, as well as the extravagance, but all for a great cause because, in the end, it’s all about the kids!
V.K. [Mel] Melhado PA
Fine Home Specialist
Preview Naples Group
Premiere Plus Realty Co.