February 17 through 19 hundreds of fun-loving ladies and gents will go absolutely mad as hatters all along the Northwest Florida Gulf coast.
And you can, too.
Plan to don your favorite hat and escape down the rabbit hole into a fairytale world filled with curious wonder at the Wine Women & Shoes event themed “Mad Hatters’ Garden Party.”
The fifth annual must-not-miss charity extravaganza is an artful weekend-long celebration of wine, fashion, food and fun benefiting Sinfonia Gulf Coast — the only fully professional non-profit orchestra on the Emerald Coast founded in 2005 by music and artistic director Demetrius Fuller.
Wine Women & Shoes is one of the fastest-growing event series in the country. Elaine Honig, a scion of the prominent California wine producing family, created the event, which was inspired by the classic country ballad “Wine, Women and Song.” Now in its 11th year, the Wine Women & Shoes team has produced more than 220 events, which have helped raise more than $37 million for various non-profits nationwide.
As is tradition, the festive weekend kicks off on Friday, Feb. 17 with a stellar series of seven Vintner Dinners held in luxury homes, hotels and upscale restaurants along the Northwest Florida Gulf coast beginning at 6 p.m.
This year’s “celebrity” chefs and winery pairings include Nikhil Abuvala of Roux 30A with St. Helena Winery; Jack McGuckin of Bijoux with Eric Kent Wine Cellars; Dan Vargo of Seagar’s with Blackbird Vineyards; Kevin Korman of Roselie, paired with Silver Trident Winery; Chris Holbrook of 30A Signature Catering with Ancien; Jim Richard of Stinky’s Fish Camp and Trebeaché with Sanglier Cellars and Michael Katz of The Henderson with Hourglass, this year’s honorary winery.
The fun factor steps up on Saturday, Feb. 18 from 4 to 6 p.m. with Bubbles, Brews & Culinary Qs presented by Smileology. Held in the Coastal Ballroom at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, guests can sip sparkling wines at the Bubbles Bar, locally crafted micro brews and ales by Grayton Beer Company, and tuck into delicious barbecue-inspired light bites while enjoying live music performed by funky bluesy fusion local favorite Dread Clampitt.
On Sunday, Feb. 19 from 2 to 5 p.m. “sole sisters” and “sole mates” again kick up their heels on the ballroom level of the Hilton during the Signature Event, presented with support from Dermatology Specialists of Florida and Aqua Med Spa. The lively event — filled with wine and food tastings, retail shopping and live music performances — centers on a high-energy fashion show of the latest trends by Today’s Boutique and crescendos with a live auction of high-end lots of reserve wine, artful excursions, luxury travel trips and the like.
New this year is a Shoe Box Pull. For a donation of $50 you can select a wrapped shoebox filled with something fabulous valued between $50 and $1,000.
Also debuting this year is a treasure trove of national retailers including Love Thirteen (San Diego), F&W Style (Atlanta), Ty Park Candles (Augusta, Ga.) and Fair Portia (Olympia, Wa.) — who are venturing to the coast to sell their boutique wares at the event.
A “best shoe” contest is a kick each year, but this year in keeping with the “Mad Hatter” theme the crowning glory just may be the “best hat” competition added this year.
Tickets to Vintner Dinners are $275 per person and includes all food, wine and gratuities. Tickets to Bubbles, Brews & Culinary Qs are $35 per person. Tickets to the Signature Event are $100 per person and includes all food, wine, reserved table seating and valet parking.
Guests who purchase a Shop & Stay package at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa will enjoy a $50 gift card to Silver Sands Premium Outlets. Rooms are from $119 per night. Call (850) 267-9500 and mention code “WWS.”
Proceeds from the event benefit Sinfonia and its music education programs, which include: musicians/guest artists in schools, free orchestra concerts, bus transportation for students, the Sinfonia Youth Orchestra program, an Arts in Medicine initiative with Sacred Heart Hospital and LINK UP concerts with third through fifth graders in partnership with Carnegie Hall.
“Sinfonia’s Wine Women & Shoes event has enabled our organization to increase the capacity of its music education initiatives by more than 300 percent over the last two years,” said Sinfonia Gulf Coast founder and music director Demetrius Fuller. “It is truly humbling to see the continued and growing support for Sinfonia and Wine Women & Shoes, and that our patrons realize that they are putting their best foot forward to make this happen.”
Wine Women & Shoes is made possible by the generous support of local businesses including the following presenting sponsors: Krueger, Fosdyck & Associates of Merrill Lynch, The Center for Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, Cox Communications, Silver Sands Premium Outlets, Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, and Visit South Walton.
Put your best foot forward and join Sinfonia’s team of volunteers. For more information, contact Elaine Tucker at (850) 460-8800.
Tickets for Wine Women & Shoes are limited, and events are expected to sell out, so advance ticket purchase is recommended. For more information or to purchase tickets for Sinfonia Gulf Coast’s Wine Women & Shoes events, visit www.winewomenandshoes.com/sinfonia or call (850) 460-8800.