Bernard Guillas

ST. PETERSBURG – Some of the world’s most stellar wines will flow and be auctioned during Wine Weekend St. Pete 2018, running Feb. 2-4 in St. Petersburg.

Wine Weekend St. Pete benefits the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, its legacy and its many children’s programs. It is the largest fundraising event for the museum representing all that is exquisite, including an elegant wine pairing dinner, an exciting auction and a celebratory champagne brunch plus as well as optional events. This year’s theme is “Be Seduced,” reflecting the opulence of the reign of Louis XV of France – a pinnacle of art, architecture, and lavish parties.

The weekend begins Friday, Feb. 2, in the museum with Fêtes à Versailles for sponsors and VIPs, bringing back the masked balls of Louis XV and the Palace of Versailles. Award-winning chefs Bernard Guillas of the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club in California and Tyson Grant of the Parkshore Grill in St. Petersburg will prepare a five-star dinner of French cuisine. Louis Latour Grand and Premier Cru wines will be served.

The International Wine Auction follows on Saturday, Feb. 3. A wine tasting and auction preview will begin at 2 p.m., offering attendees an opportunity to sip wines and champagnes as they preview the International Wine Auction under the tent on the North Lawn of the Museum of Fine Arts. The auction will follow at 4 p.m. Participants may bid on rare wines, fine jewelry and luxury trips. Russell Rhodes, co-anchor of “Good Day, Tampa Bay” on FOX 13, will be the emcee and Jeffrey Burchard, Tom DuPont, and Elizabeth Flower will serve as the auctioneers. To view auction lots, visit one.bidpal.net/wineweekend/browse/all.

Following the auction, the Century of Light after party will get under way at 7:30 p.m., kicking up the energy and featuring more outstanding wines, a dinner buffet and dancing the night away under the big top on the MFA lawn. Limited tickets are available. Individual tickets are $300 and corporate tables are $5,000. For tickets and event information, visit wineweekendstpete.org.

The weekend will conclude with Le Champagne Brunch on Sunday, Feb. 4, 11 a.m., in the MFA’s Marly Room. A wide variety of champagne, international culinary delights, and live music will be featured, toasting Wine Weekend 2018 and the museum. Tickets are $100. All proceeds from the weekend benefit The Stuart Society and the MFA.

To learn about sponsorship opportunities and to order tickets, visit WineWeekendStPete.org or call 727-619-4631. For the latest event updates, visit facebook.com/WineWeekendStPete.

The museum is at 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg.

‘Finest wine auction of the season’

The Margaret Acheson Stuart Society, the Museum of Fine Art’s fundraising auxiliary, has assembled “the finest wine auction of the season,” according to a press release from the museum.

Patricia Rossignol has returned as chair. Rossignol has chaired (2013) and co-chaired (2015) two previous Wine Weekends, including “Cheers to 50 Years,” which celebrated the museum’s 50th anniversary in 2015. Both set event fundraising records for the MFA.

Gail Phares, Stuart Society president that year, is the vice chair, along with Dawn Zachman. Carol Treichel and Jason Champion are coordinating the international auction. Maggi McQueen is the current Stuart Society president.

The historic and acclaimed Maison Louis Latour, located in Burgundy, France, is the guest vintner. This is the first time the winery has been featured at a charity event in the Tampa Bay area. Bernard Retornaz, president of the North American subsidiary, Louis Latour Inc., will introduce Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines at the Friday night masked ball.

Since its founding in 1797, Maison Louis Latour has been one of France’s treasures. Louis-Fabrice Latour represents the 11th generation of the family to maintain great traditions and to chart the future. He follows in the footsteps of his distinguished father Louis Latour, who passed away in 2016. The son was featured in the July 31, 2017, issue of Wine Spectator, which praised him on the cover as “Prince of Burgundy.”

Maison Louis Latour has a domaine of 125 acres and the largest collection of Grand Cru Vineyards in France. The Winery Corton Grancey was built in 1834 and is one of the country’s oldest and most cherished.

Award-winning chefs recruited for event

Event organizers have announced that Bernard Guillas of the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club in California and Tyson Grant of the Parkshore Grill in St. Petersburg will prepare a five-star dinner of French cuisine at the Feb. 2 Fêtes à Versailles for sponsors and VIPs.

Guillas has described a good chef as “a sorcerer who dispenses happiness on a plate.” He began his formal training in 1978 at Le Bretagne Restaurant in Questembert, France, where he apprenticed with the legendary Georges Paineau. He expanded his artistry at some of France’s leading restaurants.

In 1984, he was appointed chef tournant, chef saucier, and sous chef under Pierre Chambrin, former White House executive chef, at Maison Blanche in Washington, D.C. He relocated to San Diego in 1989, serving five years as chef de cuisine at the Grant Grill in the historic U.S. Grant Hotel.

Guillas was inducted into the American Chefs’ Hall of Fame by the International Restaurant & Hospitality Rating Bureau, one of only 14 to be so honored. His first cookbook, Flying Pans, was named a Top 10 Cookbook in America at the 2010 Book Expo America. It also received two Book of the Year awards from the International Association of Culinary Professionals in the Chefs and Restaurants category and as the People’s Choice.

Chef Guillas has made numerous television and radio appearances, including with Martha Stewart and on the “Rising Chef” series on PBS. He has been invited to serve as guest chef at the prestigious James Beard House in New York for many special occasions.

With Grant’s creativity and innovation, the Parkshore Grill on Beach Drive has become a dining destination.

He has been named Best Chef multiple times by area publications and has earned the restaurant a Florida Trend Golden Spoon Award and coveted Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence.

He has also served as guest chef for a wealth of fundraisers, including at the MFA, and has generously supported many nonprofits. With his wife Sommer, Chef Grant created Zoe’s Edible Garden at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in memory of their daughter. He has also served as Chef Ambassador to Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin’s Healthy St. Pete project.

Grant has been a leader in making St. Petersburg an emerging city for fine food and wine.