The Sarasota-Manatee Originals Announces Two “Best of Show” Wine Winners For the 2015 Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival

Sixteen wine experts sampled nearly 300 wines from around the world at this third annual Forks & Corks wine judging competition on December 1. Two wines garnered “Best of Show” status, including one from California and one from Italy. All of the competing wines will be showcased during the 2015 Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival, January 23-26, 2015.


(Sarasota, Florida) On December 1, 2014,The Sarasota-Manatee Originals hosted “Top of the Class,” a wine competition for the 2015 Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival. A panel of 16 area-based wine experts tasted nearly 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 two “Best of Show” wines selected are the 2012 Presqu’ile Winery Chardonnay from Santa Maria Valley, CA; and

the 2007 Zenato Cresasso from Veneto, Italy. Twenty-three white wines garnered gold, silver and bronze awards; 44 red wines were recognized with gold, silver and bronze awards; two sparkling wines received gold and silver recognition; and five dessert wines were given gold, silver and bronze awards. A complete list of the other award-winning wines is attached.

Steve Harner, proprietor of The Crow’s Nest and president 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 25.

“The buzz among winemakers and wineries from around the country and world is that Forks & Corks, in eight short years, has become one of the most popular wine and food events in the United States,” says Harner. “This year, more than 70 winemakers will converge on Sarasota and show off their favorite vintages. That’s something to raise a glass to!”

The Presqu’ile Winery, family-owned and operated, is located in the Santa Maria Valley on California’s Central Coast. Two generations of Murphys form the heart of Presqu’ile: Matt, Amanda, Jonathan, Lindsey, Anna, Madison and Suzanne, together with winemaker Dieter Cronje and vineyard manager Jim Stollberg. “Our wines reflect a relentless pursuit of quality,” says Matt Murphy. “We strive for elegance, balance and authentic expression and share a minimalist philosophy of interference. Except for intensive-shoot and cluster thinning, hand-harvesting and hand-sorting, we let the exquisite fruit convey the essence of its respective variety, vineyard and vintage.” Murphy adds that grapes are hand-harvested earlier than most, resulting in “brilliant wines” that are relatively low in alcohol. The winning 2012 Chardonnay received 93 points from Wine Enthusiast and is acclaimed for flavors that are “light and fresh, with peach and slight guava. That tropicality emerges even more throughout the long, lingering finish.” (Matt Kettmann, November 2014.)

The 2007 Zenato Cresasso comes from the Costalunga estate in Sant’Ambrogio, a hilly area in Valpolicella in Italy. Cresasso is named for the pebbly soil in which it is grown: “sasso” translates as stone, and “cre” is the prefix of cretaceous. Cresasso is the product of extensive study and patience on the part of the Zenato family who sought to craft a wine that truly encapsulates the uniqueness of this special terroir. This wine has a rich garnet color with flavors that evoke tart black cherries, plums, and tobacco—all characteristic of the Corvina grape. On the palate the wine is soft and elegant, with Zenato’s trademark balance. “After years experimenting on 100-percent Corvina, Alberto Zenato and Silvano, the on-site winemaker, under the scrupulous direction of Sergio Zenato, were able to produce one of the most impressive 100-percent Corvina wines from the Veneto,” says Vittorio Marianecci, brand manager for Zenato. “This is a wine that is very complex, powerful and elegant.”

The festival, January 23-26, 2015, features various winemaker events at area restaurants and retail shops (January 23, 24); interactive wine seminars (January 24); The Grand Tasting in The Ringling Museum’s courtyard (January 25; this is sold out); and a trade event for area restaurants, retailers and hoteliers (January 26).

For more information about the eighth annual Forks & Corks Food & Wine Festival, visit, or call 941-365-2800. For more information about The Sarasota-Manatee Originals, visit


About the Sarasota-Manatee Originals

The Sarasota-Manatee Originals is a not-for-profit trade organization founded in 2003. Together, more than 50 locally-owned, independent restaurants throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties work collaboratively to celebrate and promote the creative cuisine of the region, from unique quick service eateries and waterfront family restaurants to award-winning fine dining establishments. Passionate member restaurateurs work together to produce community events, optimize cooperative marketing efforts and develop synergistic partnerships among members as they focus on preserving the culinary heritage of the region. With more Florida Trend and Zagat top-scoring restaurants within a 20-mile radius of downtown Sarasota than any other area in the Florida, the Sarasota-Manatee Originals is dedicated to sharing the area’s vibrant culinary scene with the world. For more information, call 941-365-2800 or visit