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Festival Information for Wineries

THANK YOU for your interest in the Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival presented by Sarasota-Manatee Originals!
Plans are already underway for the 18th Annual Forks & Corks scheduled for January 2025, with a multi-day menu of fun, engaging and educational seminars and tasting events, ranging from the always popular University Master Classes, to a selection of world-class Wine Dinners from which to choose and of course, the famous GRAND TASTING held in the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Courtyard as well as Monday's Trade Tasting, exclusively available for local industry professionals. Over the years Forks & Corks has become the premier Food & Wine Festival on the Suncoast.
The Festival is designed to provide participating wineries with enormous opportunity for exposure to your brand and product. Additionally, your wines will be available for guests to purchase at ALL of the Forks & Corks events. We are one of the few festivals in the Southeast that has a retail focus throughout the weekend of events, showcasing your products to consumers, retailers, restaurants and hoteliers. The Festival weekend has historically produced over $150,000 in retail wine sales annually! 
Forks & Corks is  the Sarasota-Manatee Originals' largest annual fundraiser, bringing vital funds to the organization to support its ongong efforts. 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 communities.  Over 60 restaurants strong, the Originals 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.
On behalf of Forks & Corks Co-Chairs Michael Klauber and Mike Harb, the Board of Directors and all of the Sarasota-Manatee Originals, we very much appreciate your interest and support.  
Below you will find Event Dates & Decriptions, a Sample Product Quantity Guide, Event Attendee Demographic Information and Frequently Asked Questions about the 2025 Forks & Corks Food & Wine Festival celebration. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +1 (941) 365-2800
Winemakers, discover how the Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival can elevate your brand. Watch the video above to explore the exciting opportunities and benefits of participating.

2025 Festival Event Dates & Descriptions

Thursday, January 23 thru Monday, January 27
Winemaker Events & Dinners

Your participation is 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. These winemaker events take place at our Member Restaurants, throughout our Gulfcoast communities.

Saturday, January 25
Forks & Corks University Master Classes

Your participation is optional

This is a wine seminar series in which each winery representative has the opportunity to showcase 2-3  wines of your choice to an audience of 50-75 wine enthusiasts. Each panel features 4-6 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.

Saturday, January 25 
Retail Tasting Events

Your participation is 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, April 22 and are an additional opportunity to represent your winery and generate sales. Retailers charge admission for guests to attend and prices vary by location.

Sunday, January 26
The Grand Tasting

Your participation is required

This is the Forks & Corks premier 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 Grand Tasting Wine Retail Tent.

Monday, January 27
The Trade Tasting

Your participation is 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. 

2025 Forks & Corks Food & Wine Auction
Monday, January 20 thru Sunday, January 26

A part of your participation is donating to our Online Food and Wine Auction.

We hope you will support our organization by donating something exclusive or unique to our virtual online auction. Whether it might be a special vintage, large-format bottle, food-and-wine or travel experience, we know our guests will enjoy bidding on something that represents your brand.
Most wineries that opt to ship their wine for the judging also ship their donation for the silent auction at the same time. We encourage you to make one shipment. Please include the auction form with the shipment so we are able to differentiate between the Judging and Auction Donation Wine.
Please use the link below 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 below to learn about the Forks & Corks attendee demographics.


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.

Registration Form >

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

Yes! We'd love to have you join us for the 2025 event. Please note that registration priority is given to Winemakers and Winery Principals, but we will accept importers and supplies as well. We encourage you to register quickly as non-winery placement is limited!

Registration >

How many representatives can I bring to represent my winery?

For The Grand Tasting on Sunday, January 26, 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 Museum of Art 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.

Additional tickets may be purchased if you wish to bring additional representatives or guests. Please note, this event sells out within minutes after the sale launches, so we will want to know well in advance of your desire to purchase extra tickets.

There is no restriction on number of guests for the Trade Tasting event on Monday, January 27, the Retail Tasting Events and other Winemaker Events.

Tickets for the Forks & Corks University Master Classes can be determined based on participation.  

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 Master Class 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 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 $150,000 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 then group the wines in like categories and arrange the flight order for the Judges to blind taste. 20 Wine Judges - chosen for their extensive experience with and knowledge of wine -  are put into 5 groups. Each Wine Judge group tastes an average of 60 wines over the all-day event. Scores are tabulated using a 20-point scale. When judging ends, we designate the 10 highest-scoring reds and 10 highest-scoring whites. 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. 

For the 2025 Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival, the Wine Judging will take place Monday, December 9, 2024.

What am I expected to donate for the Online Food and Wine Auction?

Each participating winery is asked to donate an auction item valued at $250 or more. Popular auction items are large format bottles or a collection of wine from participating wineries. 

Additionally, please consider unique and experiential Auction Packages featuring one-of-a-kind opportunities, domestic or international travel, lodging and entertainment, special dining and party experiences and more!

Auction donations must be received (either shipped directly or hand delivered by your distributor) to the Originals office by December 1, 2024. 

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 do tend to sell out. To adequately stock the Grand Tasting Wine Retail Tent, we suggest 3 cases of each wine from your distributor. Included with each purchased VIP Grand Tasting ticket is a $150 wine voucher for the guest to use in 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 Marne Gaston at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Our office number is (941) 365-2800.