On Friday, March 23, the Nashville Predators Foundation hosted its most successful Wine Festival and Tasting, presented by Jackson National Life Insurance Company. Approximately 1,000 attendees were at Bridgestone Arena to fill their complimentary Riedel glasses with samples of 285 varieties of wines, beers and spirits and enjoy food from Bound’ry restaurant, raising an event-record amount of money for the Foundation in the process.
Along with the Predators Foundation Gala and the Nashville Predators/Brent Peterson Celebrity Golf Classic, the Wine Festival and Tasting is one of the primary annual fund-raisers for the foundation, which distributes funds to local charities and organizations through a grant program each spring.
The event has grown in each of its seven years, hosting more attendees and offering a higher caliber and number of wines in 2012 than ever before. The funds raised through wine tasting ticket sales and auction items will ultimately help the Predators Foundation contribute its largest amount of grant money to date—$350,000 in 2012—back to the community.
This year, seventy people also attended a VIP dinner in the arena’s Patron Platinum Club, with food from Levy Restaurant chef Thomas Winklebleck paired with wines from Martinelli Winery.
In its first year, the Wine Festival featured wines from just one local alcoholic beverage distributor; now that number has risen to six and the offerings reflect that expansion. Prominent wines included Hendry Estate Cabernet, Molly Dooker Boxer Shiraz, and Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet. Beers from local brewery Yazoo Brewing Company were on hand for the first time. And spirits from Maker’s Mark and Corsair Artisan distilleries provided even more variety for event patrons. Maker’s Mark Distillery went as far as dipping 100 hockey pucks in its trademark red bottle-sealing wax and making them available for a donation.
A highlight of the event is always the expansive silent auction, which this year featured a record 200 items. Most prized among the offerings were a road trip with the Nashville Predators team, an opportunity to sit in as an honorary team photographer at a Predators game, a round of golf with hockey operations advisor Brent Peterson, and items signed by celebrities like Payton and Eli Manning, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Robert Plant.
In addition to drinking, eating and bidding, those in attendance also had the chance to mingle with Predators head coach Barry Trotz, associate coach Peter Horachek and assistant coach Lane Lambert, as well as Predators broadcasters Pete Weber and Terry Crisp. Fans could also get a photo with team mascot Gnash in the event’s photo booth.
With rave reviews for the food and wines and the event’s highest grossing silent auction to date, the 2012 Wine Festival and Tasting will be tough to top. But if seven years of history are an indication, next year’s event will be even better.