SAVE THE DATE! Thursday April 4th-Sunday April 7th, 2019: Florida Winefest & Auction Celebrating 29 Years of Fine Wine & Gourmet Food to Benefit Children’s Charities in Sarasota, Florida

“The Best Four Day Weekend of the Year in Sarasota: Florida Winefest & Auction”

2018 Banquet on the Block in downtown Sarasota will be back in 2019 as an exclusive food and wine dinner for 200 guests.


Florida Winefest & Auction Celebrates 29 Years as “The Friendliest Wine Festival in the Nation” Benefiting children’s charities in Sarasota! Fred Bollaci Enterprises and Venu Magazine continue our proud media sponsorship and support for the fourth consecutive year.


2019 marks the 29thyear of Florida Winefest & Auction. Mark your calendars and purchase your tickets now! This year’s festivities run from Thursday April 4, 2019 through Sunday April 7th. Fred Bollaci advises the annual festivities comprise “the best weekend of the year to be in Sarasota.” This year, guest Master Sommelier, Michael Jordan of Jackson Family Fine Wines will be presenting at this year’s events. Jordan is one of only 15 people in the world awarded both Master Sommelier and CWE (Certified Wine Educator) diplomas. A veteran restaurateur and “Sommelier for the People,” Jordan is Director of Global Key Accounts for Jackson Family Fine Wines, traveling the globe working with key decision makers and hospitality industry leaders specializing in education and training sommeliers and service teams. Jordan also hosts a weekly radio show, What’s Cookin’ with Wine onmany AM radio markets across the country and podcast on CRN Digital Talk Radio. With over forty years in the hospitality and restaurant business Michael worked his way up to executive chef, and later roles as GM and Sommelier of several world-class restaurants. Passionate and friendly, he demystifies the world of wines as an “Ambassador of Flavor” for wine lovers across the globe. Among his achievements: Jordan was Global Manager of Wine for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts® Worldwide, President of The Beachcomber Restaurant Group, VP of F&B for Anaheim’s THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon, top rated by Zagat,and Michael opened and operated the world famous Napa Rose Restaurant at Disneyland Resort. Jordan also opened and managed both the award winning Pinot Provence Restaurant and “AAA Five Diamond” rated Pavilion Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach, CA. To understand what a “big deal” it is to become a Master Sommelier, and what a priceless opportunity it will be to meet and explore wine with one, I highly suggest you pop open a bottle of Pinot Noir (or your favorite wine) and watch the movie “Somm.”


2018 Pique Nique Sur la Baie

Events kick off on Thursday, April 4, 2019 with Pique Nique Sur la Baie with a sparkling wine reception and Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Azunia Tequila Bar from 11:00 am –11:45 am. The seated luncheon on the water (12:00 pm – 1:30 pm) at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall ($175) will include a contest for the “Most Extraordinary” hat—ladies are encouraged to dress it up! Gentlemen….you’re invited too! Thursday evening at 6:30 pm is an Exclusive Wine dinner featuring Wines from Jackson Family’s World Class Wineries, paired with a gourmet menu by Chef Paul Mattison and Master Sommelier Michael Jordan at a private residence overlooking Sarasota Bay. Tickets are limited to just 24 at $325 per person. Wine selections may include Cambria Rosé, Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Stonestreet Chardonnay, Hartford Court Seascape Pinot Noir, Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cambria Tepusquet Ranch Syrah. For other dinner venues that evening, visit


Friday, April 5, 2019 features the popular Bayfront Consumer Lunch Tasting from 11:00 am–2:00 pm at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall ($60 pp), a wine-and-food paradise under the elegant Winefest tent with dozens of fine wines from participating wineries and food by some of the best food purveyors in Florida. Meet and mingle with winemakers and winery representatives showcasing their most sought-after wines. Immediately following at 2pm at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall will be a Master Wine and Cheese Seminar featuring “Santa Barbara County – Sand and Fog”  …presented by Master Sommelier Michael Jordan, “A delicious deep dive into the most unique wine region in California, amazing wines paired with world class cheeses!” The event will be limited to 50 people and last 1 hour. ($45.00 pp). Wines will include: Nielsen Santa Barbara County Chardonnay, Cambria Estate Katherines’ Chardonnay SMV, Brewer Clifton, SRH Chardonnay, Cambria Estate Julia’s Pinot Noir SMV, Brewer Clifton SRH Pinot Noir, and KJ VR Syrah Santa Barbara County.



Friday at 6:30pm is Banquet on the Block, one of Winefest’s most celebrated culinary events. The elegant dining table stretches down Lemon Avenue perfectly dressed and seats 200 people. A true food and wine experience you don’t want to miss! Sip and savor a stellar selection of wines and mingle with friends. Your taste buds will dance as you relish savory dishes presented by one of 6 participating chefs.


The 2018 Charity Auction (Dominic Foppoli and Liam McCormick of Christopher Creek and Benevolo Wines (Sonoma) and Castello Foppoli (in Italy) auctioning off a stay in Sonoma, and a stay at their Castello in Northern Italy.

Saturday April 6, 2019 at 10:00 am at the Van Wezel will be the second Master Class of the weekend: “Deductive Blind Tasting like a Master Sommelier ” for Wine Experts and Novice Wine Drinkers presented by Master Sommelier Michael Jordan.  Guests will learn how to “Blind Taste” wines by using the Deductive tasting process of Master Sommeliers.  This promises to be educational, entertaining and fun! (1.5 hours, $55 pp). The Grand Tasting, Brunch, & Charity Auction takes place at the Van Wezel from 11:00 am-1 pm, with the auction starting at 1:30 pm.  ($150 pp). The Grand Tasting will feature wines from more than 70 wineries, who will showcase their best vintages and most sought-after wines. Sip a tasty Bloody Mary from the Tito’s Vodka Bloody Mary Bar with all the fixings!  Savor a selection of signature dishes from favorite local restaurants. The charity auction will feature wines, lavish dinners, jewelry, adventure travel to destinations like Napa, Sonoma, Italy, Aspen, and more.


The bayfront at the Van Wezel is a beautiful location for many of Winefest’s events. The weather in Sarasota in April is typically fantastic, with highs in the 70’s to 80’s, low humidity, and lots of sunshine. It’s the best time of year. If you love wine, this is your weekend to plan a trip to Sarasota!

Sunday April 7, 2019 (1:00 pm–4:00 pm) is Wine on the Water at the Van Wezel
Enjoy a relaxing afternoon sipping wine, listening to music and enjoying the view.  Food is available for purchase.  You are invited to enjoy the venue and music outside of the Tasting Tent at no charge, however, to gain access to the Tasting Tent, a ticket must be purchased. ($25 per person for 6 tastes of wine).


Florida Winefest & Auction has awarded over $8.5 million benefiting 85 local children’s charities in Sarasota and Manatee Counties on Florida’s West Coast.


Fred Bollaci will be on hand to chat with guests at all the events, and will be selling copies of his first book, “The Restaurant Diet” at events Thursday and Friday at The Van Wezel. We look forward to seeing old friends and new in Sarasota this spring!


For more information and for tickets, visit


About Fred Bollaci

I'm CEO and President of Fred Bollaci Enterprises. I lost more than 100 pounds while living "La Dolce Vita" and I'm now known as "The Healthy Gourmet." Sample the good life with me through fitness, fine food, and good wine. Meet chefs who cater to a healthy gourmet lifestyle through my Golden Palate blog.
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