The annual fundraiser will pit wine’s two main varieties against one another to raise money to maintain John and Mable Ringling’s historic mansion.
Every year, wine enthusiasts meet at the Cà d’Zan to mingle, sample food and taste a variety of wines with a stunning view of the bayfront. They’re not only enjoying one of Sarasota’s most scenic locations; they’re also helping to preserve a piece of its history.
The annual Wine Walk to Cà d’Zan is a self-guided wine-tasting tour of the Ringling grounds that ends at the historic mansion that served as the home of John and Mable Ringling.
It’s the primary annual fundraiser for the Cà d’Zan Preservation Fund, which oversees annual repairs and maintenance of the estate.
The event features food from Sarasota caterers, including Fête Catering, Onsite Modern Events, Innovative Dining and Puff ‘n’ Stuff Catering, and wine donated by Total Wine & More in a variety of stations, each featuring distinct themes.
On March 31, the Wine Walk to Cà d’Zan will enjoy its fifth year with a new theme: red or white. The playful branding asks guests to pick a side in the proverbial wine-color tug of war (rosé, of course, is somewhere in the middle and will have its own station, in addition to a beer garden) before embarking on the tour, which features several tasting areas, as well as live music by DJ Imminent.
“We wanted to play with that idea,” says Public Functions Coordinator Stevie Ramsey. “We loved the idea of people picking their sides, then going on their own path through the different food and drink stations.”
The function raises money to keep the mansion looking like it might have when the Ringlings hosted a party there in the 1920s. Located just feet from the harsh bayfront environment, the Cà d’Zan is in a constant battle against the forces of nature.
Ron McCarty, keeper of the Cà d’Zan, says the efforts to maintain the estate are never-ending. With an operating budget between $150,000 and $200,000, the museum’s main battles are with the estate’s handmade terra cotta, windows and patio marble, all of which endure the brunt of the bayfront
Last year’s event raised $78,540 in revenue. This year, McCarty says he hopes to replace the mansion’s eight air conditioners, some of the exterior terra cotta and its grout and the roof of the gold bedroom, which has consistent water issues.
For him, the event serves as a reminder of what the Cà d’Zan represents.
“I love when people come and see what the house would have been like during a party the Ringlings would have thrown,” he says. “I’ve been here 36 years, and I’ve grown to love the estate and the legacy of John and Mable and appreciate that it’s such a prominent part of Sarasota’s history. It’s important to preserve it in a way they would have, if they were here to do so.”