The Sarasota-Manatee Originals Announces Three “Best of Show” Wine Winners For the 2014 Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival

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January 16, 2014






The Sarasota-Manatee Originals Announces


Three “Best of Show” Wine Winners


For the 2014 Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival


Twenty wine experts sampled more than 300 wines from around the world at this second annual Forks & Corks wine judging competition on December 2. Three wines garnered “Best of Show” status, including one from New Zealand and two from California. All of the competing wines will be showcased during the 2014 Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival, January 24-27, 2014.




(Sarasota, Florida) On December 2, 2013,The Sarasota-Manatee Originals hosted “Top of the Class,” a wine competition for the 2014 Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival. A panel of 20 area-based wine experts tasted over 300 wine entries from Forks & Corks’ participating wineries from around the world. The judges, each of whom sampled about 60 wines apiece, spent nearly eight hours evaluating the wines before coming up with the top winners. The three “Best of Show” wines selected included the 2011 Merry Edwards Olivet Lane Chardonnay from Russian River Valley, CA; the2012Highfield Estate Riesling from Marlborough, New Zealand; and the 2010 Taken Red Blend from Napa Valley, CA. A complete list of the other award-winning wines is attached.


Steve Harner, proprietor of The Crow’s Nest, and a board member of The Sarasota-Manatee Originals, chaired the wine judging competition.


“The results heighten anticipation about which wines people are going to want to taste and purchase at The Grand Tasting,” says Harner, adding that the winning wines will be among the over 400 wines showcased and for sale at the sold-out Grand Tasting event in the courtyard of the Ringling Museum of Art on January 26.


Michael Klauber, board president of The Sarasota-Manatee Originals, says that the wine competition has elevated the national reputation of the festival. “The buzz among winemakers and wineries from around the country and world is that Forks & Corks, in seven short years, has become one of the most popular wine and food events in the United States. This year, more than 70 winemakers will converge on Sarasota and show off their favorite vintages. That’s something to raise a glass to!”


Merry Edwards, the proprietor of Merry Edwards Winery, says that she doesn’t usually enter her wines in competitions but made an exception for Forks & Corks. “I’m thrilled that the judges graced our 2011 Olivet Lane Chardonnay with this honor,” she says. “I absolutely love the fruit from our 40 year-old vineyard. It makes a gorgeous wine and I am happy the judges agreed. What a great surprise to win the top award!”


Highfield Estate winemaker Alistair Soper says that he, too, is delighted to have one of his wines be chosen as best in show. “I love that this Riesling, with its vibrant lemon/lime floral essences and slightly spicy tropical fruit flavor, is so versatile. It can be drunk as an aperitif, with spicy food or with dessert. And the lower alcohol doesn’t leave you reeling after a bottle at lunch.”


Carlo Trinchero, the co-founder and proprietor of Taken Wine Company, says that his winning vintage, the 2010 Taken Red, is “velvety smooth and reveals both elegance and power. Layers of ripe black fruit, graphite and licorice flavors lead into soft tannins. This is a classic 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet blend that is approachable upon release and should continue to age nicely for 5 to 10 years. Our tag line is ‘great wine made by great friends,’ and we’re looking forward to making many new friends at the 2014 Forks & Corks Food & Wine Festival!” 


Presented by The Sarasota-Manatee Originals (SMO), Forks & Corks, a four-day culinary festival, features various winemaker events at area restaurants (January 24, 25); Forks & Corks University’sfood and wine and seminars (January 25) in Michael’s on East’s Wine Cellar and Ballroom; and The Grand Tasting (January 26; this event is sold out), in the courtyard of The Ringling. For more information about the seventh annual Forks & Corks Food & Wine Festival, visit, or call 941-365-2800.




About The Sarasota-Manatee Originals

The Sarasota-Manatee Originals is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 2003, of more than 50 locally owned, independent restaurants in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Member restaurateurs are dedicated to preserving the culinary heritage of the Suncoast.

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