Naples Winter Wine Festival 2014, by Tricia Raynor


More than 13 years ago, a group of wine connoisseur-philanthropists came together in Naples to plan how they might marry their two passions to make a true difference in the lives of impoverished and at-risk children in Collier County. There is indeed a great need - more than 63 percent of children in Collier County are defined as economically needy. About 61 percent of the students in Collier public schools are on the free- or reduced-lunch program - that's 28,817 students out of the total 43,735 students. And sadly, as of April 3, 2013 there have been 1,218 students identified as homeless.

This group of benefactors came up with the idea of hosting the first Naples Winter Wine Festival in 2001, and have had wonderful success ever since! Since the NWWF inception, more than $110,000,000 has been raised for local children's charities, and more than 150,000 children have been helped.

At this year's Naples Winter Wine Festival, one of Manhattan's finest chefs, Bill Telepan, is honored to be the festival's Chef de Cuisine. In addition to his amazing resume - having worked at Gotham Bar and Grill, Le Bernardin, Le Cirque, serving as chef at Ansonia and Judson Grill before opening his own restaurant,Telepan, in 2005 - Telepan has also been a major participant in a Manhattan nonprofit that helps public school children make healthier food choices.

The festival will begin on Friday, January 24th at 9am at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort with a "Meet the Kids Day Tour and Lunch". That evening, Naples will be buzzing with 16 private winemaker dinners at elegant personal homes where exclusive guest lists allow intimate discussions with amazing chefs and vintners on hand. Saturday, January 25th at 11am is the exciting day of the Auction, including lunch paired with the best wines from around the world. The festival's motto is "Bid High! Bid Often! It's ALL for the kids!" The day comes to an end with an after-auction party with incredible wines, casual food and live music. On Sunday, January 26th, the festival closes with a farewell celebration lunch at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.

Would you like to be involved in this incredible event? Attend! Simply show up - every dollar raised at the auction goes to help the kids! For more information, call the Naples Children & Education Foundation at 239-514-2239.


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