The 2015 Florida Winefest & Auction Banquet on the Block event.

Image: Cliff Roles

Over the past three decades, the Florida Winefest & Auction, a multi-day wine festival, has raised $8.6 million for 87 charities that help disadvantaged kids and families in Sarasota and Manatee counties. The tradition of sipping for a cause continues next month, when Winefest returns for its 30th year from Wednesday, April 1, to Sunday, April 5.

The 2019 Florida Winefest & Auction Banquet on the Block event.

Sandra Terry, the executive director emeritus of the Laurel Civic Association, says funding from Winefest has been invaluable in helping her organization. Annual grants to the association from Winefest have gone toward the nonprofit's Kids Café program, which provides food for children after school, as well as tutoring and homework assistance programs. "Without their money we never would have been able to do what we did," Terry says.

The 2019 Florida Winefest & Auction Banquet on the Block event.

This year's festival includes special wine dinners at a number of local restaurants; Pique Nique Sur La Baie, a French-style luncheon at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall; a sit-down dinner and street party on Lemon Avenue; a grand tasting and brunch at the Van Wezel; and more.

Florida Winefest & Auction runs April 1-5 at various locations. Ticket prices vary. For a full schedule of events, visit the event website. For more info, call (941) 952-1109.

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