A Beach Party was the kick-off for the Florida Winefest, given by the organizers. It was a casual evening of mingling with some of Florida Winefest’s most generous supporters and vintners, as the sun set on another dazzling Florida evening.

The Blast-Off was sheer fun, as I danced on the powdery white sands of the Gulf of Mexico… I did just as the invite promised, and escaped into the sultry Gulf breezes of this Sarasota, Florida, tropical paradise.

In its 19th year, the Florida Winefest continues with its established traditions of sumptuous foods, great wines poured by winery principals (only), and the generosity of their local community through silent and live auctions to benefit local children’s programs.

This opening reception was a wonderful way to bring all of the important local sponsors and traveling vintners into one location for a “getting to know you better” evening. This is the first time I’ve attended an introduction gathering, and I view this pre-party as a great move. With the rising amount of wine festivals available for wineries to attend, we tend to pick the ones that take us into account, too. The folks at the Florida Winefest just raised the bar for all the others festivals out there, as far as I’m concerned.

I’m giving you a photo composite in the interest of space, and not making you scroll down a long page. I hope you enjoy a brief snapshot into an evening on the beach with great fun, food, music, the pounding surf and salt air on a mild April night at the Ritz-Carlton Members Beach Club.

Organizer Sandy Loevner, her executive assistant Jan Crudele, and I work together from November to April, getting ready for the next year’s event. For the last two years, they’ve allowed for me to organize a panel of vintners with whom I work. Landing in Tampa and driving down the Gulf Coast to Sarasota is always a thrill. Having a venue where I can showcase my clients’ talents is a blessing.

Having been first entertained by this organization as their opening event was very gracious and much appreciated by everyone, and needs to be noted, as this was a rare moment of consideration for those who bring so much to these events… personalities, products, and a big slice of their marketing budgets.

Pictured below: Upper left hand image, I’m with Sandy Loevner (FL Winefest organizer). Second from right ~ left to right, Greg Lint, Jose Diaz, and Jeff Herinckx… Greg and Jeff are from Oak Knoll Winery in Oregon. Upper right image is with Jan Crudele of the Florida Winefest. Center image are Tony and Jo Ann Truchar, with one of the event patrons. Jo Ann is in the middle, with Tony to your right. Tony Truchard is the event’s Honorary Chairman for 2009.

  • Jeff Herinckx, Winemaker for Oak Knoll Winery (wine-blog.org)
  • WINEMAKER JOURNAL (January ’09): Oak Knoll Winery of Willamette Valley, Oregon (wine-blog.org)
  • WINEMAKER JOURNAL (February ’09): Oak Knoll Winery of Willamette Valley, Oregon (wine-blog.org)