FIRST ON SJO — Central Florida will get another major wine event with the inaugural Orlando Wine Festival & Auction, March 15 through 17, 2019, sponsored by the Orlando Magic to benefit the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, the organization’s major charity.
The weekend will feature wine dinners in private homes; a grand tasting of wine and food prepared by local and nationally recognized chefs; an auction; and a dinner hosted by a celebrity chef. The weekend will culminate with the Magic’s home game on Sunday evening.
The event has been in the planning stage for some time, and the original idea, according to Magic CEO Alex Martins, was to have the events all take place in and around Amway Center. However, ongoing construction around the venue became a concern. “Ultimately, we can’t do it,” Martins said by phone from his office. “Although we do have a really unique opportunity to host it here at the building, I think it would be a pretty major inconvenience for everyone.”
The inaugural event will take place at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes. (Not the basketball game on Sunday, of course.)
The weekend will begin on Friday evening with a series of vintner dinners at private homes throughout Central Florida. “We’ll pair one of the wineries with one of the celebrity chefs,” said Martins. “It will be a fairly intimate event with 10 or 15 couples, and … the chef will pair the menu with the specific wines for that evening.”
On Saturday, the festival part of the weekend will take place outdoors at the Ritz-Carton. The walkabout event will feature the invited chefs serving small plates to attendees while the wine representatives — as many as 50, said Martins — will pour samples.
The event will move indoors for the auction, which will feature about 25 major lots, “one of a kind experiences primarily centered around travel,” he said.
Immediately following the auction, attendees will sit down to a celebratory dinner featuring the cuisine of a yet-to-be-named celebrity chef.
Chefs who have signed on to participate so far include: Current Top Chef champion Joseph Flamm, Spiaggia, Chicago; Tony Mantuano, Spiaggia and Terralina at Disney Springs; Justin Plank, Terralina; Scott Hunnel, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa; James and Julie Petrakis, Ravenous Pig; and Steven Richard, Paddlefish.
“That’s just the beginning,” said Martins. “We expect some big names to be confirmed here in the coming weeks.”
In addition, all current Magic players and coaches with be participating. “Our intent is to have some of our legends from past years come and participate as well, especially in light of the fact that this is our 30th anniversary.”
Martins said that the organization is trying to offer a world class culinary experience on a level of similar events in Naples, Destin or Napa Valley. “But also the intent of the entire weekend is to raise as much money as we can for the children’s charities of Central Florida.
A website has been set up for those who would like to receive updates. The website will be active at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28.