What I'm Drinking

By John Bancroft April 1, 2012

What I'm DrinkingFor Florida’s oenophiles and more casual—but no less enthusiastic—wine imbibers, April in Paris has nothing on April in Sarasota, where it’s Florida Winefest month again.

This year’s extravaganza, which annually raises tons of sorely needed cash for local children’s charities, runs from April 12-15 at venues as varied as fabulous private homes and on the beach on Longboat Key. With a welcome focus on small, cult winemakers, it offers locals a chance to sample some hard-to-find and easy-to-love vintages. The events include winemaker dinners, an al fresco tasting and a climactic charity wine auction.

Full details and online ticket purchase are to be had at the festival’s website,, but here’s a quick rundown of scheduled events (ticket prices are per person):

April 12, 6:30 p.m., Winemaker Dinners

Winemakers and chefs collaborate on menus served in private homes and restaurants. $95 to $175.

April 13, 6:30 p.m., Beach Feast

Big wine and food beach bash at Longboat Key Club & Resort. $200.

April 14, 1 to 4 p.m., Sip & Shop

Taste and buy wines on St. Armands Circle. $20 in advance, $25 at the event.

April 14, evening, Titanic Dinner

Chef Christopher Covelli recreates a shipboard seven-course dinner with matched wines at a private home. $150.

April 15, Grand Tasting, Brunch (11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) and Charity Auction (beginning at 2 p.m.)

You never know what masterpieces of the winemaker’s art will go under the gavel at the gala festival finale, to be held this year at Tommy Klauber’s Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch. $150.

An editor, writer and online publisher, John Bancroft has reviewed restaurants, books, movies and music for many magazines, websites and newspapers, most recently for the Tampa Bay Times.

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