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Annual Wine Weekend supports MFA
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Husband and wife team DJ Warner and Helen Keplinger of Keplinger Wines are among the featured vintners coming to the Gala Dinner and Wine Auction on Feb. 8.
ST. PETERSBURG - Some of the world’s top wines will flow and be auctioned during Wine Weekend St. Pete 2014, benefiting The Margaret Acheson Stuart Society of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg.

Four events will highlight the weekend of Feb. 7-9. A special evening, “The Grape Escape,” on Saturday, Feb. 1, will set the tone for the following weekend. Dimity Carlson is the chair, and Margaret Amley is President of The Stuart Society.

“The Grape Escape” is new this year. Partygoers will gather for drinks and hors d’oeuvres on Feb. 1 at a Snell Isle home. Guests will then be escorted to waiting limousines, which will whisk them away to incredible wine and culinary adventures. Each limousine will go to a different location. “The Grape Escape” is limited to 40 people. Tickets are $350 each.

“Let the Party Begin,” a sponsor and VIP black-tie dinner at the MFA, launches Wine Weekend St. Pete on Friday, Feb. 7. The evening will begin at 7 p.m. with champagne in the Membership Garden, followed by a dinner and select wines in the newly renovated Marly Room. All the Wine Weekend vintners will be guests of honor.

The featured vintners that night will be Squire Fridell of GlenLyon Vineyard and Winery and Ron Lachini of Lachini Vineyards. Tyson Grant, executive chef at Parkshore Grill, will prepare the dinner. This event always holds many surprises.

Tickets are $600 each for the Friday dinner or you can purchase a “party package,” which includes both the VIP event and the Saturday Gala Dinner and Wine Auction, for $800 per person. Visit to order tickets or to learn more about becoming a sponsor or VIP. You can download the reservation form from the site.

The Gala Dinner and Wine Auction, resembling the Wine Academy Awards, begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, in the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club. The finest wines will be served with a gourmet dinner, prepared by Executive Chef Mark Heimann, in the Grand Ballroom.

There will be both a silent and live auction. Nick Allen of Carte Blanche Wine, the wife-and-husband team of Helen Keplinger and DJ Warner of Keplinger Wines, and Mike Hirby of Relic Wine Cellars will be the featured vintners. Tickets are $285 each.

Rare vintages from around the globe will be available for bidding. Among those donated by Nick Allen are Château Léoville Las Cases from one of the oldest Médoc estates and deep, rich Guigal Côte-Rôtie from the northern Rhone, all earning top scores from Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator.

From previous guest of honor Fred Schrader are a Schrader “Old Sparky” Cabernet Sauvignon and six bottles of Aston Estate Pinot Noir, both receiving the highest ratings from wine connoisseurs. Many more top wines will highlight the evening.

Once-in-a-lifetime trips will also be up for auction. They include a two-week stay in a luxurious home, Casa Michara, for up to six people on the Amalfi Coast; a vacation in Paris and the French wine country; excursions to Vail and Steamboat Springs, Colo.; and tours of the Domaine Serene Vineyard in Oregon. The trips do not include airfare.

Nick Allen has designed a wine weekend for up to six people at the Longboat Key Club. Among the amenities are some Carte Blanche wines and a seven-course dinner prepared by two area chefs. Each couple will receive a pair of signed magnums to take home.

The Micato Safari in the heart of Kenya and Tanzania could be on the bucket list of the most adventurous spirits. It is full of activities and memories for two people for 12 days. Travel+Leisure has named Micato “the world’s best safari outfitter” nine times.

Wine Weekend St. Pete concludes with a Jazz Brunch at the MFA on Sunday, Feb. 9, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. There will be wine and champagne tastings, international culinary delights and live music. Tickets are $100 and the attire is resort casual.

The duPont Registry Concours d’Elegance premieres this year, also on Sunday, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on the Museum grounds. The duPont Registry specializes in luxury, and these classic cars, which are works of art in their own right, will not disappoint. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and can be purchased at the gate. Children under 12 are admitted free. Admission is included in tickets to the Jazz Brunch.

The MFA is at 255 Beach Drive N.E. For more information, call 727-896-2667 or visit
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