More than two dozen restaurants and wine suppliers are ready to serve up their fares at the sixth annual Windermere Wine & Dine.
In each of Windermere Wine & Dine’s five years running, tickets have consistently sold out, and thousands have attended it at least once.
This year, the signature Windermere-based fundraising event broke a record by selling out its ticket allotment within 20 minutes.
“When we launched ticket sales Sept. 1 we sold out in 20 minutes,” said CT Allen, one of the event’s primary organizers. “I added 50 tickets on Saturday (Jan. 19) at noon, and they were gone in seven minutes. That blew us away. We all feel so blessed that people love this event so much that we’re able to give.”
Now in its sixth year, Windermere Wine & Dine has cultivated a brand and experience that keeps residents coming back time after time.
What started as a fundraiser to buy technology for students at Windermere Elementary has grown each year. The first year, 13 restaurants participated and 350 guests attended. This year, 26 restaurants will bring their fares to the table for guests to munch on as they roam around the Town Hall.
During the event some restaurants will offer craft beers and cocktails and wine suppliers will be available to provide samples from the world’s finest wine-producing regions. Grape varietals and blends on hand include cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, pinot noir, red blends, white blends and rosés. Guests also will be able to purchase select bottles at the Tim’s Wine Market table.
The festivities don’t stop at food and wine samples, however. A robust silent auction of more than 100 items — ranging from vacation resorts and gift certificates to sporting-event tickets and date nights — will take place. Attendees must be present to bid on auction items.
Since the fundraising event has grown, so has its impact on the town of Windermere — and on the greater Central Florida area. To date, Windermere Wine & Dine has raised $350,000 for the town and local charities, such as the Windermere Police Foundation. And last year, the event committee announced the Wine & Dine Outreach Grant, a specialty outreach grant to be awarded to an organization in the greater Central Florida area. This year’s grant will go to the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness’ Impact Youth project, which assists homeless youth in the public-school system.
New this year is a partnership with Uber, which is also a sponsor for the event. Guests who use Uber to come to the event will receive a $5 credit for the ride, a private entrance and early-entrance privileges at 5:30 p.m. Ticket holders will need to enter the code “WWD2019EVENT” in their Uber app to redeem this offer. Uber also is going to enhance Wine & Dine’s grant for Impact Youth, which is going to purchase transportation vouchers for the youth benefitting from the project.
“We’re all about safe fun — that’s been our push the last two years, because we know there’s a lot of wine being poured,” Allen said. “We just want people to come have fun but be safe leaving.”
Also new is the addition of the exclusive premium lounge, sponsored by the Isleworth Golf & Country Club.
“(Isleworth) came onboard, and this lounge has been requested for a couple years, but we weren’t sure how to play it out,” Allen said. “We approached (Isleworth) about it, and they were 100% in. We have an outside rental company that’s coming in to set it up with lounge seating. We’re pouring specialty wines in there, and it’s the first time we have a full bar in there. There’s some bells and whistles, plus we’ll have designated servers going out collecting samples from restaurants and bringing them back to the lounge.”
Seeing the community embrace this event and thoroughly enjoy themselves each year — all while making a difference in the town of Windermere and beyond — is the most rewarding part for Allen and her committee.
“I think because of the impact we have with the grants, we created a really fun event that is completely different — we found a niche that the community was looking for,” she said. “This is community-based, it was perfect timing that this type of event landed, and we had all the right sponsors and restaurants. My favorite part is the energy the night of. I love how everybody totally gets into it … and the restaurants have a good time, too. Everyone loves this one night because they can just let loose and enjoy.”