It's no surprise that Suzanne and Tony Ancona, owners of Fountainhead Wines & Distillations, Fat Cat Pie Co. and Fat Cat Joe, all in Norwalk, are supporting the Westport Historical Society next month.
Tony, along with business partners Mark Ancona, Mike Pelletier and chef Bobby Herlihy, all grew up in Westport and are Staples High School graduates. (Their other partner Massimo Tullio is from New Canaan.)
"My brother, mother and father still live in Westport. My mother and father have been going to Westport Historical Society events forever," Tony Ancona said.
Fountainhead will be providing the wines for the wine-tasting portion of the "Toast the Tour" event, the prelude to the 19th annual Hidden Garden Tour and Artisan Craft and Garden Marketplace, which will benefit the WHS. "Toast the Tour" will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 5, at a Westport home. The garden tour will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 13, at several beautifully landscaped homes in Westport and Fairfield. The marketplace will take place on the grounds of the Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place, and the adjacent Veterans Green, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., also on the 13th.
Fountainhead will be providing a fine selection of whites, reds and rosés to be sampled and purchased. Party-goers will dine on a selection of gourmet treats. Additionally, the party will feature a container plant sale, with the proceeds to benefit the WHS. A wide variety of plants will be on display for garden enthusiasts.
The theme of the night will be about getting people to simply enjoy wine, Tony Ancona said.
"For us it's about satisfying people. We don't necessarily like to compare wines one against the other. We like to inform people about them," he said.
"For example we are doing a dry rosé--most people don't even know what that is. They are used to rosé as being White Zinfandel, which is a sweet wine. Dry rosés are perfect for the summer. They are sort of chilled, but they have the same sort of balance that red wines do with food....We do such unique small production wines that most people don't really know them."
He said the event will also include a sparkling wine, two reds from the same producer, as well as two other reds from the same grape but different producers. A total of eight wines will be tasted.
"Our great grandfather made wine, which is how my brother and I got into it. For us it's about sitting down to a meal and enjoying wine, as well as just sitting in the backyard with your friends enjoying wine. It's not to be over-analyzed.... At this event there will be wines to enjoy."
He pointed out the other theme Fountainhead will bring to the table is affordable wine. All of the wines will cost between $12 and $20. Some of the proceeds will benefit WHS.
Tickets to the garden tour are $35 for WHS members in advance; $45 nonmembers in advance; $50 general admission day of the tour. For tickets, call 203-222-1424 or visit www.westporthistory.org.
"Toast the Tour is the perfect event to kickoff the summer," said Deborah Herbertson and Joan Isaacson, the co-chairmen of the party, in a statement. "A beautiful house, fabulous food and wine, wonderful entertainment and even shopping - what's not to love?
"The WHS looks forward to this event each year. Last year's event was an enormous success, so the bar is set very high. Whether you are shopping the auction and plant sale, taking part in the wine tasting or just sipping a specialty cocktail on the patio with live music, attendees will not be disappointed in this special evening."
Vocalist Nicole Pasternak and guitarist Carmine Marino will perform an array of songs for the party guests. They specialize in jazz, Brazilian, blues, pop and what they term as the "great American songbook." They have a deep connection to Fairfield County, having performed for years at several venues. They got together in 2004 for a regular gig at SoNo's Bistro du Soleil restaurant, where they performed for four years.
Suzanne pointed at that while it's rare for Fountainhead to do off-site tastings like the "Toast the Tour" party, they do have a private space at Fat Cat Joe where they hold many tasting events.
"We are doing them all the time, whether they are informal fun tastings that are really well-priced with the pizza from Fat Cat Pie, that sort of thing, or full course dinners. Sometimes we invite the various wine producers that we work with. It's really fun when we bring our producers in and have a full-on dinner," she said.
She cited their recent Terry Theise Champagne dinner/tasting.
The next tasting at Fat Cat Joe is being dubbed "A Paris Bistro in Norwalk."
Linda Dannenberg, a friend and customer at the Fountainhead shop in Bedford Hills, N.Y., and author of "Paris Bistro Cooking," considered to be the definitive book on the subject, agreed to host the wine and food pairing dinner at Fat Cat Joe on June 18 starting at 7:30 p.m.
The event will recreate a classic Paris bistro experience. Chef Bobby Herlihy will execute a variety of the recipes from the cookbook with Dannenberg giving commentary during the proceedings. Mark and Mike will match a series of French country wines to accompany the fare.
The price per person will be $90, which includes tax and gratuity. Please call Fountainhead on (203) 854- 9138 for information and/or reservations.