A Toast to the Festival

By staff April 30, 2007

New flavors and fun at the Florida Winefest & Auction.


By Judi Gallagher


    Winefest 2007 is now but a memory of empty glasses and piles of corks. The week was filled with wine dinners, some over the top, some obscure (like the bologna and white bread served as a course at one house party). Fortunately, I chose to attend the dinner at Roy’s with Deloach and Murphy-Good wines. A great choice, considering that both wine makers are incredibly personable and genuine. It was a bittersweet weekend, with the recent passing of Jerry Loevner, husband of the festival’s longtime head, Sandy Loevner. She is an inspiration to all and kudos for all of the board members and volunteers that have help raise millions for children’s charities. (Note to the man in the back at the auction who was annoyed by the spotters’ streamers: Get a life, pal—the auctioneer needs to see the bids, and the spotters are all volunteers.)

Chef Ryan Kelly, Aaron Radman  and Amy Weeks  at the Roy's dinner.


The Saturday brunch before the auction is always one of my favorites. I love going through the Grand Ballroom of the Ritz Carlton looking for new wine finds. This year I found the Hartford Court, Sonoma Coast Land’s Edge Vineyards a wonderful choice. Their vineyards are near Flowers winery. Joan and Walt Flowers, festival honorary chairs this year, winter here and produce incredible pinot noir. The Frank family, known for producing such Hollywood movies as Good Morning, Vietnam, are also producers of a near-perfect 2005 Napa Chardonnay. For the big bold wines, I was excited by the intensity of the Reynolds family’s reserve cabernet. Don’t get too excited, though: I checked their Web site for pricing and they are sold out. Firestone is producing a syrah  with tones of blueberries and cinnamon that are worth an investment of a case or two if you are a big red wine drinker like me.

Brenda Terris and Rick Thurmon at Saturday’s auction


While the wines take center stage, so do the stylish attendees. The event was a runway of beautiful outfits. Katie Klauber always looks lovely, and ABC’s Silkie Rible, sporting a fabulous new short do, was stunning in pink, while Stew Bitterman’s pink pants are an institution at this point.


Some breaking news: Chef Dillon, former executive chef at Bijou Café, seems to have plans of his own. He was passing out postcards of a new venture opening this summer just around the corner.
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