Sarasota Polo Club opens 2024 season with new VIP section

Tampa’s Alex Brooks was all smiles as she enjoyed her Champagne on Dec. 31 in an exclusive setting at the Sarasota Polo Club.

It was a new offering that made its debut on the Lakewood Ranch polo club’s opening day. Sarasota Polo Club owner James Miller thought his club needed another high-end activity that aligns well with the sport.

He combined forces with Lakewood Ranch’s Gina Lyons, the owner of A Vine Affair, to open the VIP Champagne Lounge on Sundays during the main polo events. A Vine Affair is under contract for the entire season.

Brooks and her husband, James Brooks, said the result is perfect for the setting.

“This could become a signature event for Lakewood Ranch,” Alex Brooks said.

Her husband said Miller has found the perfect person to make the project go well.

“I have been around the world, and I have met no one with more knowledge about Champagne than Gina,” James Brooks said. “This is an elevated atmosphere, and it is fantastic.”

Lyons started down the road toward her current business with an Instagram account that reviewed Champagnes in 2017. That project took an unexpected turn for Lyons in 2020 when COVID-19 hit the area. She began to connect with a larger audience by hosting online Champagne and caviar events.

Champagne-makers were worried about their sales with people unwilling to attend large events in public during the pandemic, and they threw their support to Lyons. Her public forum grew rapidly.

Eventually, Lyons said some of her clients wanted to have a more private setting for their Champagne affairs, and she capitalized on that desire. She also saw the opportunity to add food to her gatherings. She would send food, such as caviar, to her clients who were going to “attend” an online gathering.

She expanded her Champagne, wine and culinary education as she started and grew A Vine Affair.

Her connection with Miller came after she had met Ron Trytek, the Sarasota Polo Club’s director of sales and marketing, last season. She explained her business to Trytek, who scheduled her for two events, each hosting about 30 people, during the 2023 season.

“James loved the content and wanted to bring it on a regular basis,” Lyons said.

Now she said the VIP Champagne Lounge is just on a bigger scale at the Sarasota Polo Club, which uses the spot where the clubhouse was located before it burned down in January. She said the capacity will be between 130 and 150 patrons each week

Three tiers of service tickets (The Deck, The Lounge, Private Cabana) will be sold, the first starting at $79, and going up from there. Each ticket package includes a gourmet lunch prepared by Cafe L’Europe and other amenities.

“We’re definitely excited for everyone to see this,” Lyons said. “The polo club hasn’t had something at this level.”

For more information, visit A description of each ticket package is available. For more information about A Vine Affair, visit or call 813-492-3008.

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