Naples Rotary Food, Wine and Beer Festival serves food, drink — and a scholarly mission

Museums closed. Restaurants were dark. Theaters canceled entire productions. Yet The  Rotary Club of Naples' Food, Wine and Beer Festival stared down the aftermath of Hurricane Irma with three words:Let's do it.For one thing, the festival has been the organization's main fundraiser eight years, beginning with its incarnation as "Grapes and Apes" at the Naples Zoo. The proceeds, said chair Mia Delk, go first and foremost to its Learn to Earn program. "We used to do four-year college scholarships, but we're concentrating now on the vocational-technical side," said Delk, who has been involved with the festival since its first year. "This lets the students go to school locally and come back to the community and work." More:  FYI-Food: Restaurant Week, craft beer dinner, weekend brunch and more More:  Naples wine fest foundation to target childhood hunger, oral care at auction For another thing, the festival is a lot of fun: "We try to make it the wine festival in Naples everybody can afford and attend," Delk said.There are some 110 different wines being poured. Lou Bernardi, Florida west coast sales manager for Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits, thinks of it as his party, even though he says he won't drink a drop while he's supervising some 18 tables pouring various wines. "And not only that —since it's my party it's only the best of the best," he said. He's fond of Naples wine drinkers, who have defined tastes that run to California cabernets and New Zealand sauvignon blancs. They're value-conscious, too, he said: Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc, a New Zealand product that retails for a thrifty $10, shows its highest volume for the state of Florida from Naples. But he is also hoping to introduce locals to gems such as the Luigi Righetti Amarone — "It tastes like a raisin-ated grape" — and Kung Fu Girls Riesling, with a touch of sweetness, but "not like a German Continue Reading