BLACK TIE: Springtime Winter Park Wine & Dine set to please palates

More than 28 food and beverage vendors are bringing their flavors to downtown Winter Park for the spring edition of Winter Park Wine & Dine.

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  • | 7:54 p.m. March 19, 2018
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WINTER PARK  For those looking for an excuse to sip, stroll, socialize and enjoy a relaxing evening out, you’re in luck: Winter Park Wine & Dine is coming up again.

The brainchild of Winter Park Events’ Anthony Dinova, the biannual event has become a community favorite and social staple. It began in 2012 when Dinova, a New York native and Marine, launched Winter Park Events, co-event planner David Merritt said. 

“This was one of his dreams, to start Winter Park Events and have a great event for the community to come out and have a great time,” said Merritt, who operates BeBest Events by David Merritt and publishes Orlando Relocation Guide. “We make it so that whatever reason you’re coming there for, you find the place to have a great night out. We want people to come and have a good time and get some great food and beverages from our partners. It’s just a lot of fun. Our goal is to be Orlando’s premier food drink and music fest for people to come to twice a year.”

The event will feature more than 23 restaurants, eight dessert vendors, liquor and craft beer vendors and five wine vendors. Attendees can mix and mingle while sampling light bites from local restaurants and dabbling in different wines, beers and spirits.

The event launched in 2012 but has grown at a steady clip ever since. Merritt said when Dinova the first Wine and Dine garnered about 200 attendees. Dinova brought Merritt into the project to help run day-to-day operations. Since then, the two have begun to host the event twice each year to accommodate the growth and provide more opportunities for both consumers and vendors to attend.

Anthony Dinova and David Merritt team up to put on Winter Park Wine & Dine.
Anthony Dinova and David Merritt team up to put on Winter Park Wine & Dine.

“People were asking, ‘Why do we have to wait a year to come again?’” Merritt said. “We decided to have a spring and fall event, because that’s what our guests were asking for, and our vendors enjoy it, as well. It’s a great marketing opportunity for the restaurants, beverage companies and dessert companies to come out and put their product in front of consumers who are there looking for new restaurants to go to and new wines, spirits and craft beers to drink.”

Guests roaming around outside the Winter Park Farmers Market will be treated to the sounds of local rock band Room 2. Those inside the venue enjoy a mellow atmosphere for the first half of the night as they listen to a live saxophone player, who doubles as a deejay and switches to mixing tunes for the rest of the night.

At the sold-out October event, there were about 1,000 in attendance, compared to about 800 last spring, Merritt said. He and Dinova are expecting up to 1,100 people next week. 

As of March 12, there were about 150 general admission tickets and 25 VIP tickets left, according to the EventBrite page. VIP tickets include early entry to the Wine and Dine — an hour before general-admission ticket holders — as well as access to the VIP area, which features an unlimited full premium bar and full pour-rated wines. Merritt encourages attendees to grab their tickets quickly, because the last event sold out three days early.

“We … have high expectations of ourselves to provide a great experience for whoever buys a ticket,” Merritt said.


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