The Orlando Magic-sponsored Orlando Wine Festival & Auction returns this month with events March 24 -26. This will be the third rendition of the festival, which began in 2019 and then, like so many other things, was suspended for the following years. In fact, what was to have been the second annual Orlando Wine Festival was just days away in March 2020 when the pandemic forced its cancellation.
That second edition finally occurred last year with a hastily formed abbreviated version. The decision to go ahead last March was made only 45 days before it took place. Nevertheless, it raised nearly $1 million for the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, the NBA team’s charity. Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins hope to top that amount this year with a return to the same roster of events from the first year, including wine dinners held in private homes and exclusive locations on Friday.
“I’m excited about getting the vintner dinners back up,” Martins said in a phone call earlier this week. There will be six dinners in various locations throughout Central Florida with celebrity chefs pairing dishes with crus from some of the festival’s visiting winemakers. Dinners will include Melissa Kelly (Primo) with wines by Bernard Magrez (Bordeaux) hosted by Amish and Beena Parikh; Jame and Julie Petrakis (Ravenous Pig) and Peter Michael Winery at the home of Derek and Sherene Lewis; Chef Lo (Kaya) and wines by Fulldraw at Murray’s Downstairs in downtown Orlando; chefs Ray Comiskey (Eddie V’s Prime Seafood) and Michael La Duke (Capital Grille) with wines by Greg Brewer (Brewer-Clifton) and Knights Bridge Winery at the Winter Park home of John & Carolyn Martin; and Scott Hunnel (Victoria & Albert’s) with wines by Roy Estate at Golden Oak.
Martins and his wife, Juliet, will cohost a dinner with Dan and Pamella DeVos cooked by John Tesar of Knife & Spoon at the Ritz-Carlton with wines from Rudd Estate. Martins said that owner Samantha Rudd will also be in attendance.
That dinner will take place in the Magic’s new training facility in downtown Orlando. It’s an expansive space with a high-class clubhouse feel. The main room features an open kitchen with enough counter seating to accommodate an entire team of diners.
The facility was the site of a preview event Tuesday evening that featured some of the lots in this year’s auction. They include a trips to Napa Valley, Bordeaux and Aspen and a chance to travel on the team plane to Los Angeles to watch the Magic play the Clippers. You can also expect a lot of high-end jewelry and expensive watches.
Martins said that another live auction item will feature team members each holding a magnum of wine from the festival’s wineries. The winning bidder will win all of the magnums.
The auction will take place at a dinner Saturday night at the Ritz-Carlton following an afternoon of food and wine tasting on the hotel’s terrace featuring the chefs listed above. Watch the video below for a look at last year’s food and wine tasting.
About 600 people attended last year, according to Martins. If you’re wondering how so few people could raise nearly a million bucks it’s because tickets to the event are rather pricey. The least costly package is $2500, which includes two tickets to the Saturday food and wine festival and the auction and dinner, plus two invitations to a future luncheon for the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation grant ceremony.
If you want to attend one of the vintner dinners – and also get tickets to the Magic game versus the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, March 26 – you’ll need to go with the $6500 package for two. That also includes VIP gifts and local car service to the Friday and Saturday events. When you think about it, $6500 is cheaper than a DUI. If you’ve got $9250, you can get all of that plus a few other goodies and a hotel room for Saturday night. See all the packages and get more information, including participating wineries, at wineauctionorlando.com.