Sarasota-Manatee Originals Rally At The Ringling For Its Annual Forks & Corks

Todays News


Popping the cork on its 12th annual Forks & Corks weekend-long festival, the Sarasota-Manatee Originals cheersed to another successful year of food and wine exploratory events, ranging from intimate gatherings to grand-scale tastings. Florida foodies came far and wide this past weekend to enjoy the top-shelf wines, celebrity winemakers and curated cuisine from the finest independently-owned local restaurants on Florida’s Suncoast.

May 2-4, guests experienced Winemaker Dinners around town, showcasing some of the medal-winning wines perfectly paired with menus at select Originals establishments. Led by some of the world’s greatest wine purveyors–some coming from as far away as South Africa to host these inspiring dinners and providing guests with a rare and educational experience. Then, a University Master Class took place at Michael’s on East Ballroom on Saturday, May 4, with seven world-renowned industry professionals and winemakers leading an exclusive seminar showcasing 14 award-winning wines from around the globe along with a stunning cheese board by Artisan Cheese Company. Guests cleansed their palettes as the panel lead them on a guided tour of “Old World” and “New World” wines from California, Oregon, Portugal, Italy, France and more. A “pop-up” Retail Tasting immediately took place following, at Michael’s Wine Cellar, hosted by some of the area’s leading local wine merchants.

The granddaddy of all its events took place Sunday, May 5 at the Grand Tasting–culminating the weekend with an instant sell-out at John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. With presenting sponsors Audi Sarasota and Suncoast Porsche, The Ringling's entire courtyard filled up with participating vendors and thousands of hungry and thirsty attendees. Guests sipped, savored and sought shelter from the rain for the extravaganza of touring and tasting, set up under tents throughout the historical grounds. Quality wines from a collection of more than 350 wines from around the world were sampled–each hand-selected and professionally tasted, judged and recognized as a medal winner. Mingled in with the imbibing, attendees explored culinary creations from 60 local restaurant members of the Sarasota-Manatee Originals. JPan, enRich Bistro, Overture of Art Ovation, Mattison’s, Michael’s On East, Duvals and Pacific Rim, were among the many, cooking up gourmet grab-and-go bites. A retail tent was also available, where patrons were able to purchase various varietals offered–making Forks & Corks one of only a few festivals in the Southeast to provide the opportunity to purchase showcased wines on-site during the event.

“I’m thrilled with the overall success of the 2019 Forks & Corks Grand Tasting. The Sarasota-Manatee Originals are an incredible team, and we are so thankful for the support of this community.” says Sarah Firstenberger, executive director of the organization. “Our member restaurants truly shined on Sunday, and the participating wineries showcased an amazing array of wines from around the world. I can’t be more proud of what we accomplished this weekend. We are already looking forward to 2020.”

The Grand Tasting also celebrated “Best in Show wines”, with 2014 Rombauer “Diamond Selection” Cabernet Sauvignon and 2016 Paul Cluver “Estate” Chardonnay coming out as the top winners this year. In terms of the fundraising portion of the festival, Sarasota-Manatee Originals expect 2019’s Forks & Corks to be the most successful in funding for its charitable partners. “This year, we are hoping to top our highest amount raised to date,” says Firstenberger. In 2018, $20,000 was raised to fight hunger for All Faiths Food Bank. The final number for 2019 is still being calculated and will be announced in the next few days.

Photo courtesy of the Sarasota-Manatee Originals.

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