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Wine enthusiasts revel at third Winter Wine Festival

By Staff | Mar 2, 2011

Stan Howard, president of the Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club,and his wife, Dani, greeted guests as they arrived at the Third Annual Sanibel Uncorked Winter Wine Festival.

The Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club staged the Third Annual Sanibel Uncorked Winter Wine Festival last Thursday evening, both inside and outside Lily & Co. Jewelers, where more than 300 guests sipped fine wines, nibbled gourmet appetizers, watched cooking demonstrations and took part in a silent auction that offered valuable gifts and one-of-a-kind experiences.

According to Stan Howard, president of the Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club, the idea behind conducting an annual wine festival came following another fundraiser staged by his group.

“We were holding golf tournaments throughout the year to support our scholarship programs,” said Howard. “But them someone came up with the idea to hold one big event, in season, and we brought in the element of doing something with fine wines.”

Last year’s Sanibel Uncorked fundraiser garnered approximately $10,000. Howard and his fellow club members were optimistic that the Feb. 24 event would exceed that amount. All moneys raised will be put towards the San-Cap Optimist Club’s six, four-year $5,000 college scholarships. They are handed out to eligible Lee County students, the majority of which, Howard noted, have come from Sanibel.

Each guest attending the Winter Wine Festival received a commemorative wine glass to use for the evening and as a keepsake.

Serving a tray of appetizers, Richard Johnson, center, of Bailey's General Store is joined by Monica Taylor, left, and Kimberley DeVito.

The auction list of goods and gift certificates, arts and crafts included a personalized aircraft tour of the islands for four and a hand-painted Nirve “Surf Dragon” bicycle by artist Drew Brophy. Jewelry by Lily & Co. was also offered for sale, with many items discounted for the guests. A portion of the proceeds from the evening were donated to the club.

Dan Schuyler, co-owner of Lily & Co., recalled being approached by the San-Cap Optimist Club two years ago about hosting a special fundraiser at the store. From day one, he stated that he was on board.

“We host a lot of events here that help support this community, so we were happy to do it,” said Schuyler. “And what I love the most about it is that it’s a fun event that supports a great cause.”

Entertainment was provided by island favorite Buckeye Ken, with additional music by Frans & Quebbie.

The Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation.

From left, Dan Schuyler, Chip and Nancy Roach and Karen Bell.

Michelle Tenbrook, Janet Jump and Jennifer Kuersten.

From left, Gunther Mikolajczyk, Renate Lietz, Stan Howard and Ruth Falkenhayn.