Wine Walk to Ca’ d’Zan at John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
March 28, 2014
By: Sherry Janes
Presented as, “A celebration of fine wine and delicious international cuisine along the original driveway from the Ca d’ Zan gatehouse to John and Mable’s palatial mansion,” did not adequately prepare one for such an amazing venue!
Having attended numerous “A Taste of…” in cities throughout the country, none could begin to compare with the WINE WALK to the Ca’ d Zan. Although similar in concept as to the art of pairing wines with appropriate combinations of intriguing and delicious cuisine, the comparison ends there. Even being familiar with the historic grounds and magnificent setting overlooking the bay, I felt such a sense of having arrived at an evening the Ringlings themselves might have hosted.
The attention and thought given to the finest detail was so evident, such as providing each person with a lanyard to conveniently carry our “Passport” so that it would be easily accessed at each “Customs Checkpoint” we were to
encounter. Our passport provided a guide to each region we would visit, giving an overview of the wines and accompanying regional cuisine to be sampled.
After having my passport stamped at the “Checkpoint,” I made my selection of the regional wine being offered, as well as samplings of the elegantly displayed “Indigenous Northwest” cuisine. A folk guitarist and vocalist added to the ambience of the locale. I joined some ladies at a table to savor my choices and found they attended the WINE WALK last year. Having been thoroughly entranced by their former experience, they specifically planned their travel from North and South Carolina to Sarasota to coincide with the event this year. After having my growing feelings that this was going to be an extraordiary evening confirmed and feeling sated with the pleasures of this region, I traveled on.
As I approach, I am greeted by the sounds of a flamenco guitarist and vocalist, then mesmerized by the sharp stiletto sound and movements of authentic Flamenco dancers. The mood has been set for sampling the wines from this region along with the delicious tastes of the “South by Southwest” cuisine it was paired with.
Flamenco Entertainment Provided by International Productions by Tahja www.Tahja.com
An intermittent deep, resounding beat of a drum, announces the arrival to this region. Ah, how apropos, a selection of sake to accompany the “Succulent Sushi” and other Japanese cuisine. As the weather was delightfully pleasant, I took my samplings outside to be enjoyed. I happened to join two ladies from Naples who read about the event in a local periodical and came for an overnight specifically to attend the WINE WALK. A conversation ensued about the endless cultural and social opportunities that are available in Sarasota, but how special to experience such a venue in this magnificent setting.
Region: Australia/New Zealand
Another great offering of wines and succulent “Hot Off the Barbie” New Zealand lamp chops and skewered shrimp, both served with flavorful sauces.
Anxious to proceed on to arrive at the last stop by the bay before nightfall, I accept a ride from a passing shuttle. Thoughts of Mable and her passion for gardening come to mind as we pass the walk to the formal garden flanked by rosebushes covered with beautiful red blooms. The mansion looms ahead looking regal and festive with light glowing through the stained glass panes in the windows and the walk lit by luminaries. The shuttle takes the long approach to the mansion by way of the actual driveway flanked by huge banyan trees and palms. We arrive at the front entrance, and I once again imagine doing so as a guest of John and Mable. However, the last region beckons and the mood shifts.
An enticing display of regional cuisine comes to view. “Roaming Through Rome,” a table laden with a colorful Antipasto bar featuring Italian meats, cheeses, grilled vegetables, breads, and olive oils cannot be refused. And as our passport advises, “A meal is never over without something dolce (sweet).” I cannot resist taking my selections out to enjoy by the bay, where I joined a couple from New York. They own a home in Sarasota also, but shared that it was the husband’s birthday and they had flown in to celebrate his special day by coming to the WINE WALK. Once again, all agree that such a special event is far more enjoyable in this incomparable setting.
As I have come by myself and most people in attendance are couples, now starting to dance to the band under the big tent at the Italy location, I am drawn by the serenity of the Ca’d Zan terrace. My last moments of the evening were spent reflecting on the profusion of sensory delights this truly extraordinary event has provided.
Per The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art website for this event:
Stroll The Ringling estate, taste fine wine and delight in delicious food pairings and entertainment inspired by the world’s finest wine regions. The second annual Wine Walk to Ca’ d’Zan is a self-guided wine tasting tour along the drive to John and Mable Ringling’s historic mansion overlooking Sarasota Bay. Your passport to the Ca’ d’Zan includes a commemorative wine glass, swag bag and an opportunity to participate in a silent auction for incredible items including a five-day trip for two to a 15th Century castle in Tuscany, Italy (airfare and lodging included).