NAPLES WINTER WINE FESTIVAL STARTS SOON

The city of Naples, Fla. will host many of the world’s most esteemed chefs and vintners on Jan. 27, when the 2012 Naples Winter Wine Festival kicks off its 12th annual event. Launched in 2001, the annual festival has become the nation’s most successful charity wine and food event since 2004, raising a total of $94.5 million to date for the Naples Children & Education Foundation, which supports underprivileged and at-risk children in Collier County.

The 2012 festival co-chairs Joan and Bob Clifford of Chicago, along with a dedicated team of other NCEF trustees, have brought in a lineup of 17 of the nation’s most well-known chefs and 29 vintners hailing from four continents and seven countries. Headlining the lineup will be Chef de Cuisine Tony Mantuano of Chicago’s Spiaggia, and Honored Vintner HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg of Bordeaux’s Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion and First-Growth Chateau Haut-Brion. The 2012 festival will also offer 67 one-of-a-kind lots at auction, including wine, jewelry, travel excursions and VIP celebrity experiences.

On Jan. 27, Meet the Kids Day will offer festival guests the chance to see the accomplishments of NCEF firsthand, as they interact with children in Collier County who have directly benefited from the foundation’s work. Following will be a lunch where guests can enjoy wines from Croatia’s Korta Katarina winery, owned by Naples Children & Education Foundation trustees Penny and Lee Anderson, as well as Clarendelle from Clarence Dillon Wines and Napa Valley’s Darioush and Grace Family VineyardsThe evening of Jan. 27, festival trustees will host private dinners at their homes for 20 to 40 guests, offering attendees the chance to taste the chefs’ signature dishes expertly paired with the participating vintners’ wines. Chefs and vintners paired together for dinners include Colgin Cellars with Wolfgang Puck, Haut-Brion with Joachim Splichal, Domaine Serene and Lail with Rick Tramonto and John Folse, Verite with Stephan Pyles, Cos D’Estournel with Nick Anderer, Brewer-Clifton and Domino de Pingus with Bill Telepan, GAJA with Tony Mantuano, Staglin Family and Bodega Charca with Kelly Liken, Shafer with Nancy Silverton, Gargiulo with Dean Fearing, DuMol with Kerry Simon, Bryant Family and Joseph Drouhin with Michelle Bernstein, Hartford Family and Two Hands with Joseph Lenn, and Araujo with Charles Phan.

On Jan. 28, the festival auction will present 67 remarkable offerings at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples – a founding sponsor of the festival. Lots include rare and collectible wines such as a 35-bottle vertical of Chateau Haut-Brion spanning 84 years; exclusive trips to some of the world’s most iconic wine estates from Napa Valley to Tuscany; 22 days aboard a 50-passenger luxury Icelandair B-757-200ER for a private jet around the world tour for two; attendance at a private dinner with 100 friends and Tom Colicchio of “Top Chef” followed by a concert with LeAnn Rimes and Blake; a painting by Spanish contemporary artist, Juan Genoves; custom-crafted 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster; 12-night trip to South America with Abercrombie & Kent; tickets to the “American Idol” finale; behind-the-scenes experience at the Kentucky Derby; attendance at Elton John’s White Tie & Tiara Ball in Windsor, England; meet-and-greet with designer Oscar de la Renta and tickets to his New York runway presentation; walk-on role on the Emmy Award-winning TV series, “The Good Wife;” attendance at a Tiffany & Co. 175th anniversary gala with a $50,000 shopping spree; golf trip in Ireland, which includes golfing and dining with Darren Clarke, the 2011 British Open Champion; and exclusive excursions through Central America, Croatia, Northern Europe and Burgundy, by sailboat, yacht or cruise. For a full list of auction lots, please visit the festival website at: http://www.napleswinefestival.com/auction-lots.php.

At the heart of the festival are the children in need. As a direct result of the investments of NCEF, more than 125,000 children have had their lives improved. A nine-person board, representing 69 trustees, governs the foundation and currently supports 23 grantees and long-term strategic initiatives focused on children’s early learning, medical/oral health, out-of-school programs, behavioral health and childhood hunger.

On Jan. 26, prior to the festival’s opening day, a special C’est Magique Honored Vintner wine tasting and lunch will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples. Hosted by Honored Vintner, HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg, the tasting will present a comparative tasting from the legendary Bordeaux First-Growth Chateau Haut-Brion and its adjoining property, Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion of five of the most legendary vintages: 1961, 1982, 1989, 1990 and 2000, followed by a lunch at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort’s Lemonía restaurant, featuring two additional and extremely rare vintages as “surprise wines.” The event will be moderated by Bordeaux critic James Molesworth of Wine Spectator. Tickets are $2500 per person.

Festival ticket prices are $8,500 per couple and $20,000 for reserved seating at the same vintner dinner for two couples. For a schedule of 2012 festivities and information about the Naples Winter Wine Festival, visit www.NaplesWineFestival.com or call 888-837-4919.

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