AmbroseZine February 2021
Although the 20th St. Ambrose University Wine Festival will be like none that came before it, supporters still will have two unique opportunities to show their support: one for community-minded small business owners fighting to recover from the pandemic and the other for students seeking an affordable St. Ambrose experience.
In the case of the former, for 15 days in March wine lovers can support several of the Quad Cities restaurants whose samplings add flavor to the annual Wine Festival Wine Tasting.
Then, on Saturday April 10, the annual Preview Dinner – the largest driver of Wine Festival fundraising – will be a to-go affair. Patrons can pick up dinners and wine to enjoy at home, where they also can participate in the annual live and silent auction via Facebook Live.
"As with many things this past year, the Wine Festival has been forced to adapt to the realities of the pandemic," said Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD, the St. Ambrose president who will emcee her final Wine Festival Preview Dinner prior to her August retirement. "We know the great folks in the Quad Cities and St. Ambrose communities still will join us virtually and continue their ongoing support of St. Ambrose student scholarships."
Since it debuted in 2002, the Wine Festival series has raised more than $1.5 million for student scholarships.
As the event celebrates its 20th anniversary, Ed Littig, former Vice President for Advancement who created the event, will serve as an honorary co-chair along with his wife, Mary.
Co-chairs for the event are Dimitri and Kathy '94 Papageorgiou. From the outset, Dimitri Wine and Spirits, the QC area's premier wholesale wine distribution and import company, has been the festival's contact for participating vintners and restauranteurs.
The Papgeorgious are primary proponents for assisting local restaurant owners looking to recover from lost business owed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It has been an incredibly challenging year for these business owners who have always stood ready to help make our event so special," said St. Ambrose Executive Director of Advancement Anne Gannaway. "The SAU Wine Festival Restaurant Appreciation program is our small way of giving back."
Through the program, eight local eateries will present a complimentary bottle of wine to patrons who make a reservation or place a to-go order and mention the Wine Festival. The program will be in effect from March 7-11, March 14-18, and March 21-25, but only while supplies last.
Participating restaurants include Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano, Lunardi's Italian Restaurant, Me & Billy Kitchen & Bar, Tantra Asian Bistro and The Phoenix Restaurant, all in Davenport; as well as The Combine, a Bass Street restaurant in East Moline, Ill.; Siracha Thai Bistro & Oyster Bar in Moline, Ill.; and Trattoria Tiramisu in Bettendorf, Iowa.
"We hope wine and food lovers will take this opportunity to pair a fine bottle of wine with a meal from one of these eight vendors," Gannaway said. "Our committee members are genuinely excited to help direct some business to these true community partners and wonderful community assets."
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 threat, the March Wine at the Warehouse event and the annual May Wine Tasting will not be held this year.
The signature Preview Dinner and the Virtual Auction will continue to grow the scholarship fund while still providing St. Ambrose University supporters the experience of a three-course gourmet meal, and, of course, great wine from a featured vintner.
This year's dinner will celebrate Brian Larky and Kristin Milles from Dalla Terra and their selections from four family-owned wineries in Italy.