In its third year, Forks and Corks food, wine and beer festival is upping the stakes with an impressive lineup of participating wineries and restaurants. Moving its dates from May to January this year, The Sarasota-Manatee Originals is giving food- and wine-lovers a chance to enjoy nicer weather in addition to all that Sarasota and Manatee counties have to offer.
“Wineries travel in January, so this is a much better time to get suppliers,” said Alicia Allen, executive director of The Sarasota-Manatee Originals. “We also wanted to stagger out all the wonderful wine festivals this area has to offer, so the community doesn’t have to choose and can enjoy all of them.”
With 85 wineries and 36 restaurants participating, this four-day culinary celebration brings together world-renowned vintners and brewmasters and talented regional chefs, showcasing the city of Sarasota to attendees from all over the country.
“Many more winemakers and owners are coming this year,” said Michael Klauber, president of the Sarasota-Manatee Originals. “We have such a fabulous backdrop with the Ringling Museum and all the best restaurants. Culinary tourism is such a big thing, and we really want Sarasota and Manatee counties to continue to be known as a culinary destination. The culinary arts are part of Sarasota’s arts community, too.”
Klauber is most excited about this year’s special guests — 14 members of the annual Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux U.S. tour are making a final stop in Sarasota on their way back to France. The members will present a once-in-a-lifetime seminar showcasing some of the world’s most prestigious wines at Forks and Corks University Saturday, Jan. 30.
“Never before have we had such an illustrious group of Bordeaux chateaux on the Gulf Coast of Florida. We want to put on good show for them so they would like to come back,” said Klauber. “This is a big step for our event and city.”
For the big finale of the weekend, Marchese Piero Antinori, one of most famous winemakers, will be honored at a dinner gala to benefit Grapes for Humanity as well as Oak Park School and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County.
IF YOU GO
• Winemaker and Brewmaster Events — Friday, Jan. 29 and Saturday, Jan. 30, at Euphemia Haye, Café Baci, The Bijou Café, Cosimo’s Brick Oven, Harry’s Continental Kitchens, Michael’s Wine Cellar, Libby’s Café + Bar and Ophelia’s by the Bay
• Forks and Corks University educational and interactive seminars — Saturday, Jan. 30, at Michael’s On East and Gold Coast Eagle Distributing
• The Grand Tasting, with silent auction to benefit Meals on Wheels Plus — Sunday, Jan. 31, at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art courtyard
• Marchese Piero Antinori Gala dinner to benefit Grapes for Humanity — Monday, Feb. 1, at Michael’s On East
For more information or to purchase tickets to all Forks and Corks events, visit www.FreshOriginals.com.