Before guests waved paddles to raise money for the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and other charities, however, they noshed poolside to the sounds of tropical music during the event’s Grand Tasting.
Patti Maurillo, resident of Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club, strolled the club’s breezy patio, past Blu Sushi tuna towers in mini martini glasses and Il Cielo’s strawberry-topped espresso chocolate mousse.
Wearing lime-green sunglasses, Maurillo raved about Chianti-braised lamb ravioli prepared by Angelina’s Ristorante, one of about 20 restaurants that served bites alongside about a dozen vintners. Still, she most enjoyed the petite Syrah in her glass.
“I like the wine better than the food,” Maurillo said. “They call me party Patti.”
And, Maurillo said, it felt good to celebrate for a charitable cause. She and her husband, Nick, have friends whose premature grandson began his life in a children’s hospital incubator.
“It (the hospital) is providing services for children who would otherwise have to leave the area for their critical care needs,” Nick Maurillo said.
With 30 minutes left in the 90-minute tasting, Miromar Lakes’ executive chef, Robert Brown, had 10 of his 45 racks of tamarind-rubbed Colorado rack of lamb left, along with a minted watermelon and feta salad.
Five-time festival participant Chris Tilley, owner of V Madrone in St. Helena, Calif., enjoyed a 2008 cabernet from his winery and a pastry from Lush Bakery.
“That particular cab has some toasted marshmallows that matches perfectly with the white chocolate brioche,” Tilley said. “A gorgeous pairing.”