Four Nights, Three Venues and 4,000 Guests Later, the United Way Miami Wine & Food Festival Raises More Than $500,000 to Benefit 120 Programs in Miami-Dade

April 30, 2012

MIAMI, FL--(Marketwire -04/30/12)- Presented by American Express, from April 18 - 21, the 17th annual United Way Miami Wine & Food Festival featured a craft beer tasting at Mary Brickell Village, a fine wine tasting at Village of Merrick Park, and two nights of dinner and dancing at the famed Fontainebleau Miami Beach -- raising more than $500,000 net to benefit 120 programs focused on making Miami a more educated, prosperous and healthy community.

"We are so grateful to our sponsors, participating restaurants, wineries and breweries and our enthusiastic guests for combining their love of wine and food with that of philanthropy," Harve A. Mogul, president and CEO, United Way of Miami-Dade, said. "The funds raised through this annual festival continue to change the lives of thousands of people in our community."

After its wildly successful debut in 2011, Brews & Bites Craft Beer Tasting, sponsored by CBIZ, kicked off the festivities at Mary Brickell Village on April 18. Son Cubano and 97.3 The COAST entertained 1,200 guests who enjoyed nearly 100 craft beers and micro-brews at dozens of tasting stations, and sampled bites from 20 local restaurants, including: Miami EDGE Steak & Bar, Tobacco Road, Gilbert's Bakery, Sprinkle Designs and Fado Irish Pub & Restaurant.

Taste & Toast Fine Wine Tasting, sponsored by Miccosukee Resort & Gaming, took place at Village of Merrick Park on April 19. Spam All Stars and DJ Concept entertained more than 1,500 guests who enjoyed 430 fine wines from 80 international wineries and gourmet treats from 36 premier restaurants and caterers, including: Alhambra Restaurant, Wynwood Kitchen and Bar, The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Café Bistro at Nordstrom, HaVen and Lounja Catering. Before the event, 300 members of South Florida's legal community gathered in support of United Way at Artefacto to celebrate the Third Annual Legal Mingle.

Friday night's Food Friends & Fun Interactive Dinner, sponsored by Bacardi USA, belonged to Bravo's Top Chef winner Chef Kevin Sbraga, who guided almost 600 guests through the preparation of a four-course meal with Johnson & Wales culinary students serving as sous chefs. The menu included: chilled carrot soup with curry cream with crystalized ginger, cilantro, mint, grapes and cashews; local snapper with avocado, pickled red onions, Thai basil pesto and olives; loin of lamb with braised lentils and tamarind chili sauce; and the dessert included a coconut sorbet with roasted pineapple and a vanilla madeleine. WSVN 7's Belkys Nerey served as the mistress of ceremonies, and Bacardi brand ambassador Gabe Urrutia held a special anniversary toast with Oakheart Spiced Rum.

The festival culminated on Saturday, April 21, with Cellar-bration - Good Food and Award-winning Wines, featuring an exclusive dinner under Fontainebleau Executive Chef Thomas Connell, paired with gold medal-winning wines from the Best in Glass Wine Challenge. Auctioneer Nick Weir presided over the spirited live auction, which featured stellar wines such as six bottles of 1996 Château Latour and six bottles of 1996 Château Mouton-Rothschild; exclusive wine vacations including roundtrip air travel provided by American Airlines and stays in Provence and Loire Valley; fabulous cruising packages provided by Celebrity Cruises in Australia, Europe, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and more; and in-home experiences including private chefs, sommeliers and dessert workshops, among many others. The more than 600 guests also enjoyed dancing to live entertainment by Luis Serrano and his Orchestra and an amazing display of eclectic desserts by Infused Bakeshop.

The 2012 festival trustees were Jayne and Leonard Abess; Hilarie Bass; Linda and Michael Bittel; Nelly and Mike Farra; Dan Hanrahan; Carlos Migoya; Susan and Bob Norton; and Oscar Suarez. Hanrahan, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises served as festival chair, and Lyn Farmer served as festival director.

For a full list of participating restaurants, wineries and breweries please visit www.miamiwinefestival.org. For more information and photo albums, visit www.facebook.com/miamiwineandfoodfestival and/or www.twitter.com/miamiwinefest.

American Express was the presenting sponsor of the 2012 festival. Other sponsors included: American Airlines at the Vintner level; Bacardi USA, Bank of America, Carnival Corporation & PLC, Celebrity Cruises, City National Bank, Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Global Resources Registry, Miccosukee Resort & Gaming and Village of Merrick Park at the Sommelier level; Baptist Health South Florida, CBIZ, Cisco and Steiner Leisure Limited at the Connoisseur level; Acqua Panna, BB&T, Chase, ChatChow.tv, Ernst & Young, Florida Power & Light, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Greenberg Traurig, Johnson & Wales University North Miami, In the Gables Magazine/Response Publishing, Laurent-Perrier Champagne, Lexus, Miami New Times, Downtown Coral Gables & Miracle Mile, Northern Trust, Ocean Bank, Sabre Travel Network, World Fuel Services, Zuni Transportation and 97.3 The COAST at the Cooper Level; and Noven Pharmaceuticals and Right Management at the Enthusiast level. The Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald, MIAMI Magazine and Venue Magazine are media sponsors of the festival.

Associate Legal Mingle was sponsored by: Akerman Senterfitt; Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod, LLP; City National Bank; Greenberg Traurig, LLP; Hunton & Williams, LLP; Ryder Charitable Foundation; and Holland & Knight.