Celebration of Wine to benefit public radio

Connoisseurs of fine wine and public radio turned out last year for A Celebration of Wine. (Photo by Allen Cheuvront)

Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 5:23 p.m.

An evening of fine wine, food and auctioning could raise more than $25,000 for North Central Florida's public radio station.


If you go

What: A Celebration of Wine, annual benefit for public radio WUFT-89.1
Where: Reitz Union Grand Ballroom, University of Florida
When: 1-4 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $50 per person in advance, $60 at the door. Available at The Wine & Cheese Gallery, Wild Birds Unlimited, Mildred’s Big City Food, Blue Gill Quality Food, Tecnicolor Salon, and at Alarion Bank branches in Gainesville and Ocala, as well as online at www.celebrationofwine.org.

Florida's WUFT 89.1 will host its 24th annual A Celebration of Wine event from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday in the University of Florida's Reitz Union Grand Ballroom with the goal of raising between $25,000 to $30,000 for the station.

“The ultimate goal is just to raise money for the station,” said Sue Wagner, director of community relations at WUFT.

Tickets cost $50 in advance and $60 at the door, but all proceeds benefit the station, which broadcasts programs and services to 19 counties in North Central and Mid-Florida. Event goers will enjoy a showcase of wines and foods from local vendors, as well as silent and live auctions.

“If we can do an event that's fun and profitable, it's fun for everybody in the community,” Wagner said.

A Celebration of Wine has gained prestige even outside the community, drawing people from all over Florida, said Wagner, whose brother, sister-in-law and friends are driving 14 hours from Washington, D.C., to support the event.

Marjorie Speer, a wine consultant for Opici Family Distributing, one of the event's wine distributors, said it's the premier wine event in the area.

“Not only is it a great community event, but we have a lot of buyers that we deal with who go [and whom] we get to talk to and say ‘hello,' ” she said. “It's a really interactive event.”

Plus, with a tough economy, an event that combines multiple elements benefits everyone, Speer said.

“People are looking for more value for their dollar,” she said. “Instead of going to a restaurant, they'd sooner come here, enjoy tasting free wine and experience a nice meal.”

Wagner said event organizers also want to keep the night lively with a theme. Last year, a throng of “Great Gatsby” impersonators dressed as flappers and uppity city slickers.

They raised about $25,000 — a measure Wagner wants to top this year with “Saturday Night Fever,” a '70s disco-themed social.

“The wine is always very good. The food is great. After 24 years, it's always fun to mix it up,” she said. “Plus, it's all for a good cause.”

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