2019 Triangle Wine Experience Grand Gala

We held our Grand Gala and Auction benefiting Frankie Lemmon School & Developmental Center on February 2nd at the empty Sears location in Crabtree Valley. Over 70 wineries and 20 chefs joined us for this evening of fine wine, delicious cuisine, and stellar auction items. We thank all wineries, chefs, guests, and volunteers who made this evening so magical. And we thank you all for your steadfast support of the children of Frankie Lemmon. Kate Pope Photography captured the magic of the evening.

10th Annual 12 Roses Dinner

For one night only, 12 of the most extraordinary women in food and wine banded together to prepare one

out-of-this-world private dinner for 30.  

It starts with the wine. We brought five incredible female winemakers to Raleigh to share the highlights of their cellars and their vineyards, and they always show up with some serious juice. Pam Starr, owner and winemaker of Crocker & Starr, leads the line-up and deserves a high five as the original “rose”—she came up with the idea 10 years ago and has been instrumental in its success each year. She has tapped 4 of her fellow wine gals from California to pour their best bottles for you including: 

  • Jill Matthiasson of Matthiasson Wine
  • Carissa Mondavi of Continuum
  • Michael Rodeno of Villa Ragazzi
  • Pam Starr of Crocker & Starr

Meanwhile, chef Ashley Christensen of Death & Taxes, Poole’s Diner, Beasley’s Chicken and Honey, Chuck’s and Fox Liquor Bar, curated the chefs of the evening, inviting SIX incredible female talents to Raleigh to pair up on a multi-course dinner of unparalleled quality.  Ashley will be joined by these amazing women of the food industry:

  • Mashama Bailey of The Grey in Savannah GA. As executive chef of The Grey, Mashama has earned a number of accolades, including a nomination as a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Southeast award in 2018.
  • Katie Button of Katie Button Restaurants including Cúrate in Asheville NC. Chef Button was a semifinalist for the James Beard Rising Star Chef award in 2012 & 2013, a nominee in 2014, semi-finalist for Best Chefs in America in 2015 and a nominee for Best Chefs Southeast 2018.
  • Lindsay Autry of The Regional Kitchen & Public House in West Palm Beach, FL. Lindsay is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Chef Autry held various chef positions at prominent restaurants along the East Coast and in Mexico and made headlines as a finalist on Bravo TV’s ninth season of “Top Chef.”
  • Jamie Malone of Grand Cafe in Minneapolis, MN. Malone gained national attention and earned a place as a semifinalist for the James Beard Award Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef” for 2013 and “Best Chef Midwest” for 2014.
  • Cheetie Kumar, Raleigh’s very own James Beard nominated and owner of Garland. Raleigh’s Cheetie Kumar Is a Rock Star Chef, literally.
  • Erin Kanagy-Loux of Union Square Events in New York City. In 2015, Kanagy-Loux earned a StarChefs Rising Star Hotel Pastry Chef Award for her work.

Finally, overseeing this intersection of food and wine were sommeliers Inez Ribustello and Cappie Peete. Inez, of Tarboro’s On the Square is an Advanced Sommelier, who built wine programs in top restaurants in New York before moving back home to Tarboro with her husband to launch On the Square. And Cappie Peete, is the advanced sommelier who leads the charge of the beverage program at Death & Taxes and the rest of the AC Restaurant Group.

Chris Carpenter Dinner – Lokoya, Cardinale and LaJota

Football defensive lineman. Bartender. Pre-med student. MBA recipient.  Medical device salesman. Winemaker. Chris Carpenter is a man who’s worn many hats over the years. His most noteworthy, however, is perhaps the one he’s been wearing for the past twenty: winemaker for Jackson Family Wines’ esteemed Lokoya, Cardinale, Mt. Brave, La Jota and Hickinbotham labels.    The chef for the evening was none other than James Beard Best Chef USA Ashley Christensen of Death & Taxes, Poole’s Diner, Beasley’s Chicken and Honey, Chuck’s and Fox Liquor Bar. You can expect an otherworldly meal, as Ashley takes fresh local ingredients and gives them her elevated twist on classic comforting dishes.

Snap Pea Dinner

Snap Pea Catering, owned and operated by Chef Jacob Boehm runs one of the most WILDLY CREATIVE concept dinners, in SURPRISING LOCATIONS.  Each 8- to 9-course dinner is carefully crafted to surprise and delight, from the surprise location to the concept menu. Tickets to his dinners (usually 180 seats over 3 days) sell in less than 15 minutes!   In addition, our surprise winemaker for this dinner was Maria Sinskey, of Robert Sinskey Vineyards.    This dinner was held at the Frankie Lemmon School and net proceeds for this dinner benefited the Triangle Down Syndrome Network

DuMOL Dinner

DuMOL, named after the initial winemaker’s children (Duncan and Molly), released its first 300 cases (equal numbers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) in 1996 and the rest was history. The winery has consistently garnered excellent reviews from the top periodicals and sells out of every wine every year.  We are fortunate to have hosted our very own DuMOL dinner on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at the beautiful home of Ken and Pamela Adler in North Raleigh.  Chef Serge Falcoz-Vigne of Saint Jacques prepared a feast that was on a par with the wines from DuMOL. Serge prepares authentic French cuisine. His sauces make you want to lick the plate. His mashed potatoes have so much butter and love that he leaves you wanting for more. And finally, his interaction with his guests shows that passion he has for his cooking.

Tuscan Dinner

On May 22, 2019, Pam Swanstrom opened her home in Cary to host a dinner with some amazing Tuscan wines including The wineries for this exquisite dinner come from all parts of Tuscany:

  • Il Carnasciale – Over the years Il Carnasciale has acquired cult status among collectors who crave the finest Tuscany has to offer, and rightly so. These are some of the most unique wines from Italy. The characteristic that truly sets Il Carnasciale apart from any other winery in Italy, or the world, is the cultivation and vinification of the grape variety Caberlot, a natural crossing of Cabernet Franc and Merlot – essentially, an Italian Cheval Blanc, a cult Super Tuscan!
  • Torre a Cona – Torre a Cona is one of Tuscany’s most beautiful and elegant estates from the Colli Fiorentini in the heart of Chianti, located just 10 kilometers from Florence.  We will be trying two Vin Santo’s side-by-side.  What a rare treat!
  • Tolaini– Fabolous producer of Chianti Classico and Super Tuscans.  We will be trying their Gran Selezione Chianti Classico. 

Chef Josh Decarolis of Mothers and Sons in Durham prepared a Tuscan feast to match the wines.

Garland Dinner with Ramin Karimloo, Joe Kwon and the Band

On August 4, 2019, Ramin Karimloo, Joe Kwon, Tania Elizabeth and Sergio Ortega were the headliners for a charity dinner at Garland to raise funds the Frankie Lemmon School.   In addition to the great food from Garland, the dinner for 50 included wines from Davis Family Vineyards and Quilceda Creek.   Ramin and Sergio wowed the audience with three songs highlighted by Old Man River, which as simply stunning.

Concert: Ramin Karimloo, Joe Kwon and the Band

On August 4, 2019, Ramin Karimloo, Joe Kwon, Tania Elizabeth and Sergio Ortega were the headliners for a charity concert at Kings to raise funds the Frankie Lemmon School.   Check out our videos section to see some of the performances.

Martina McBride dinner

Country music superstar Martina McBride was in Raleigh to help raise funds for the Frankie Lemmon School.   The event, on Saturday, August 17, 2019, was held at the beautiful home of Eliza Kraft Olander and Brian McHenry.    Scott Crawford, the James Beard semifinalist behind Crawford & Son restaurant, served a sumptuous meal paired with wines from Eliza’s and Brian’s cellar.


On Thursday, October 24th, 2019, we held this year’s Piggypalooza at the newly restored Historic Wakefield Barn! What a fun event!

Of course, it all started with food and wine–Rodney Scott (Rodney Scott BBQ) and Sam Jones (Sam Jones BBQ) prepared the most delicious BBQ.  Duskie Estes, The Queen of Pork and Food Network’s creator of Black Pig Bacon & Waffles, flew in from California to prepare her famous bacon popcorn and the bacon salad!   And then Samad Hatchby, and Chef and owner of Mulino, prepared his famous lasagna as a side dish.  Locals Seafood provided delicious oysters as appetizers and Slice of Pie ended the evening on a sweet note!


Let’s also not forget what made the night meaningful–wine! We brought our “A Game” for this party: we’re talking the triumvirate – Michael Riel of CIRQ, Guy and Judy Davis of Davis Family Vineyards and Steve Reynolds of Reynolds Family Winery.

The Jordan Lake Swimmers Americana Band provided entertainment throughout the night.  A Jordan Lake Swimmers event is a harmony filled acoustic presentation of current songs from Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, Van Morrison, Steve Earle, and Ryan Adams. 

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