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FLORIDA'S FINEST FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL!

Festival Information for Wineries

Thank you for your interest in the Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival, which is the largest annual fundraiser for the Sarasota-Manatee Originals. The Originals are a collaborative of independently owned and operated restaurants and culinary innovators committed to uniting the energies of local restaurants and celebrating the food and friendship that’s indigenous to our Gulf-coastal lifestyle. The “Originals” are nearly 60 restaurants strong and provide diners with unique local flavor from the north shore of Anna Maria Island down to the southern beaches of Venice and every neighborhood in between. By choosing to dine at an Originals restaurant you support the extraordinary efforts of these local restaurateurs who share a passion for dining excellence and commitment to the communities in which they work and live. Funds raised by Forks & Corks support the marketing efforts of our group to promote local dining.

Forks & Corks has become the premier Food & Wine Festival on the Suncoast. Below you will find Event Dates & Descriptions, a Sample Product Quantity Guide, Event Attendee Demographic Information and Frequently Asked Questions about the various Forks & Corks events.

Thursday, May 12 to Saturday, May 14 - Winemaker Events & Dinners                  *Optional

The Originals coordinate a variety of events hosted by our member restaurants to showcase your wine alongside the area's best culinary creations. These events range from formally structured wine pairing dinners, to lesson luncheons, to casual reception tasting style events. Many of our member restaurants carry licenses to sell wine, creating an additional sales opportunity for your winery.

Grove 151 copy Mattisons 77 copy

Saturday, May 14 - Forks & Corks University                                                                        *Optional

This is a wine seminar series in which each winery representative has the opportunity to showcase two wines of your choice to an audience of 50-75 wine enthusiasts. Each panel features 6 winery representatives (typically owners and winemakers), as well as a moderator who will lead the discussion. The wine shown is available for guests to purchase. Forks & Corks University takes place in the Michael’s On East Ballroom and Michael’s Wine Cellar.

University 16 copy University 48 copy

Saturday, May 14 - Retail Tasting Events                                                                               *Optional

The Sarasota-Manatee Originals partner with various wine retail shops in the Sarasota, Venice, and Bradenton area who host wine tasting events (open to the public) exclusively featuring the wineries participating in Forks & Corks. These events typically take place during the afternoon of Saturday, May 14 and are an additional opportunity to represent your winery and generate sales. Retailers charge admission for guests to attend and prices vary by location.

WME Gallery 04 WME Gallery 03

Sunday, May 15 - Grand Tasting                                                                                             *Required

This is the Forks & Corks anchor event. The Grand Tasting is held in the spectacular courtyard of the Ringling Museum of Art. 1,800 guests will enjoy sampling wine and food from over 100 vendors. Each winery will have an assigned station and will be provided with a table, linen and winery sign. There is a strict policy that only 2 representatives are allowed per winery station (due to tight capacity limits in the Ringling courtyard.) Your wine will be available for guests to purchase in the Forks & Corks Wine Retail Tent.

Grand 95 copy Grand 95 copy

Monday, May 16 - Trade Tasting                                                                                            *Required

This is a hospitality industry exclusive tasting where 300-400 individuals have the opportunity to interact with Forks & Corks wineries. Invitations are extended to restaurants, hotels, country clubs, retailers etc. within a 200 mile radius. This is a free event exclusive for industry individuals with proper credentials. The Trade Tasting takes place in the ballroom of GROVE Restaurant in Lakewood Ranch.

Trade 224 copy Trade 224 copy

Please use the link above to calculate the total amount of sample product you will need to provide for the festival, depending on the events you wish to participate in.

Please use the link above to learn about our event attendee demographics.

FAQs

Is there a registration fee to participate?

There are no registration fees associated with Forks & Corks. We do require all product for the Grand Tasting and the Trade Tasting to be supplied (at no cost to the Sarasota-Manatee Originals.) In addition, if your winery participates in Forks & Corks University, that product is also donated. Should your winery participate in Winemaker Events/Dinners and Retail Tastings, your local distributor representative will work with the host restaurant/retailer to supply appropriate product. All travel and lodging is the financial responsibility of the participating winery.

How do I register?

Registration is an easy online form, that you can find below. All completed forms are reviewed by our event co-chairs. Once your registration has been approved, you will receive a welcome e-mail with more information on how to register the wines you will show, how to sign up for wine judging, the discounted hotel rates we have available, the various events you may be interested in participating in and all other details needed to prepare for Forks & Corks.

Click here to register as a Winery

Click here to register as an Importer/Supplier on behalf of a Winery

Can I register if I am an Importer/Supplier and not a Winery Principle?

Yes! We'd love to have you join us for the 2022 event. Please note that registration priority is given to Winemakers and winery principles, but we will accept importers and supplies as well. We encourage you to register quickly as non-winery placement is limited!

Click here to register as an Importer/Supplier on behalf of a Winery

How many representatives can I bring to represent my winery?

For the Grand Tasting on Sunday, May 15, there is a strict policy that ONLY 2 BADGE CREDENTIALS will be provided for each winery station (due to tight capacity limits in the Ringling courtyard.) You may only bring 2 individuals per station. We will also provide distributors with badge credentials so that they may provide you with support on event day separately.

Tickets may be purchased if you wish to bring additional representatives or guests. Please inquire about purchasing tickets by January 24, 2022. Please note, this event sells out within minutes after the sale launches. If you do not let us know that you would like tickets before this time, we cannot guarantee tickets will be available for you to purchase.

There is no restriction on number of guests for the Trade Tasting event on Monday, May 16, the Retail Tasting Events and other Winemaker Events on Friday, January 29th and Saturday, January 30th. Tickets for the University Masterclasses can be determined based on participation.  

 

What is the schedule of events occurring over the weekend?
  • Event Date TBD - VIP & Sponsor Kick Off Party                                  *Optional
  • Thursday, May 12 - Saturday, May 14 - Wine Dinners                        *Optional
  • Thursday, May 12 - Saturday, May 14 - Retail Tasting Events           *Optional
  • Saturday, May 14 - Forks & Corks University                                          *Optional
  • Sunday, May 15 - Grand Tasting                                                                *Required
  • Monday, May 16 - Trade Tasting                                                                *Required

Event Descriptions

Winemaker Events & Dinners

The Originals coordinate a variety of events hosted by our member restaurants to showcase your wine alongside the area's best culinary creations. These events range from formally structured wine pairing dinners, to lesson luncheons, to casual reception tasting style events. Many of our member restaurants carry licenses to sell wine, creating an additional sales opportunity for your winery.

 Forks & Corks University

This is a wine seminar series in which each winery representative has the opportunity to showcase two wines of your choice to an audience of 50-75 wine enthusiasts. Each panel features 6 winery representatives (typically owners and winemakers), as well as a moderator who will lead the discussion. The wine shown is available for guests to purchase. Forks & Corks University takes place in the Michael’s On East Ballroom and Michael’s Wine Cellar.

Retail Tasting Events

The Sarasota-Manatee Originals partner with various wine retail shops in the Sarasota area who host wine tasting events (open to the public) exclusively featuring the wineries participating in Forks & Corks. These events typically take place throughout the week and are an additional opportunity to represent your winery and generate sales. Retailers charge admission for guests to attend and prices vary by location.

Grand Tasting

This is the Forks & Corks anchor event. The Grand Tasting is held in the spectacular courtyard of the Ringling Museum of Art. 1,800 guests will enjoy sampling wine and food from over 100 vendors. Each winery will have an assigned station and will be provided with a table, linen and winery sign. There is a strict policy that only 2 representatives are allowed per winery station (due to tight capacity limits in the Ringling courtyard.) Your wine will be available for guests to purchase in the Forks & Corks Wine Retail Tent.

Trade Tasting

This is a hospitality industry exclusive tasting where 300-400 individuals have the opportunity to interact with Forks & Corks wineries. Invitations are extended to restaurants, hotels, country clubs, retailers etc. within a 200 mile radius. This is a free event exclusive for industry individuals with proper credentials. The Trade Tasting takes place in the ballroom of GROVE Restaurant in Lakewood Ranch.

Will I be able to select the events I'd like to participate in?

The Grand Tasting & The Trade Tasting are required events. When registering to participate in Forks & Corks, these events are mandatory for participation.

Once all of the wineries have registered, we work on programming with our wine committee (made up of representatives from each distributor). When planning the University sessions, we look for trends in wineries registered (ex. If we have 6 Italian Winemakers attending the festival, it is likely that we would opt to have an Italian themed Forks & Corks University Master Class session). When planning Winemaker dinners, we often pair up Winemakers to co-host dinners at the best local restaurants. Please note, only wineries providing a Winemaker or Principal will be eligible to participate in winemaker events/dinners and as panelists for sessions at Forks & Corks University. We do our best to accommodate all requests. However, we do not guarantee placement. When you register to participate you will be asked to indicate the events that you would like to participate.

Will I be able to sell my wine during the Forks & Corks events?

Yes! Your wine will be available for guests to purchase at ALL of the Forks & Corks events. The festival weekend produces over $100,000 in retail wine sales annually! 

We are one of the few festivals in the Southeast that has a retail focus throughout the weekend of Forks & Corks events, showcasing your products to consumers, retailers, restaurants and hoteliers.

How does the Wine Judging work?

We started the Wine Judging Event in 2013 in order to boost retail sales and increase wine knowledge of event attendees. We found that the judging increased retail sales by 50% at the Grand Tasting. Only wines showcased at the Grand Tasting and Trade Tasting are eligible to be entered into the blind judging. Each winemaker can enter up to 6 different wines. We do ask that you provide 2 bottles of each wine entered into the judging. Samples can be shipped directly to the Sarasota-Manatee Originals office or delivered to our office by your Florida distributor. Once we have received all the submissions, we group the wines in like categories and arrange the flight order for the judges to blind taste. There are 20 wine judges who are experienced tasters that we group into 5 groups of 4 judges each. Each judge group tastes an average of 60 wines during the event. Scores are tabulated (we use a 20-point scale). Once the judging is complete, we take the 10 highest scoring reds and 10 highest scoring whites. All judges taste these to award the Best in Show designation. Based on numerical scores, wines are awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze awards. Medalists and Best in Show winning wines are announced prior to the event and designated in our event program wine guide.

 

What am I expected to donate for the silent auction and who does it benefit?

Every year, we have a silent auction at the Grand Tasting that benefits a local charity. In 2020 over $20,000 was raised for All Faith’s Food Bank Children’s Hunger Campaigns. Each participating winery is asked to donate an auction item valued at $250. Popular auction items are large format bottles or a collection of wine from participating wineries. 

Auction donations must be received (either shipped directly or hand delivered by your distributor) to the Originals office by April 2022. 

What details do I need to know about retail sales and how much wine can I expect to sell?

Your Florida distributor will work to advise you on this. Best in Show, medal winners, and aggressively priced wine does tend to sell out. To adequately stock the wine shop we suggest 3 cases of each wine from your distributor. Included with each purchased VIP ticket is $150 wine voucher to use a the retail tent during the Grand Tasting. Note, when deciding what wines to enter into the judging, please keep in mind that you will want the wine to be available for purchase in the state of Florida at the time of the event.

I have a question that wasn't answered here. Who do I contact?

Please contact Sarah Firstenberger at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Our office number is (941) 365-2800.

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Sarasota-Manatee Originals
1215D S Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34239
941-365-2800

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