USD Wine Event Is a Proven Classic

Guests of the fifth annual Wine Classic

Guests of the fifth annual Wine Classic sampled wines for 30 University of San Diego-affiliated wineries from Napa Valley to Baja California.

The fifth annual University of San Diego Wine Classic, held on July 14, drew a sold-out crowd of 700 and raised more than $50,000 to benefit the Alumni Endowed Scholarship Fund that supports USD students.

Guests sampled wines from 30 USD-affiliated wineries from Napa Valley to Baja California, dined on fresh paella, freshly carved meats, cheeses, fruit and gazpacho, as well as a special beignet dessert with berries and a mini-scoop of ice cream. There was also a raffle and silent and live auctions with wine-related items.

In addition to Sunday's main event held at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice's Garden of the Sea, the inaugural Vintners' Dinner took place Saturday night on campus. The meal, attended by 60 people, featured a special four-course meal accompanied by a different wine with each course from four of the wineries represented at the Wine Classic.

"It's the first one we've done, but it was so nice and personable and the food and wine were wonderful," says Wine Classic Committee Chair and USD alumna Heather Manly '02, '05, about Saturday's dinner. "It was a nice evening, a different vibe. We had community members there, some alumni and a few staff members. We had people asking us if we're planning to do this next year. The answer is yes."

Bringing the dinner back-and listening to feedback about everything each year-is important to the event's growing success, Heather says.

"We've taken feedback; we've received and improved on a lot of things," she said. "On Sunday, we changed some of the food, the flow of the foot traffic, and one change we noticed was the crowd. There were younger USD alumni present; it was quite noticeable. That's good, too, because it means the word is getting out there about the Wine Classic."

Alumnus Kevin Dooley '93, who helped launch the Wine Classic as a fundraising idea, did a presentation before the Wine Classic for USD Young Alumni Network members, called Inside the Glass, designed to give them advice on how best to use their senses of taste, smell and sight when attending a wine-tasting event.

Heather cited, too, that several attendees took advantage of USD's early-bird ticket price of $65 before May. "Keeping the price under $100 makes a difference."

So, too, do the efforts of many to make Wine Classic a must-attend summer event in San Diego.

"The USD Wine Classic continues to be a wonderful, first-class event, both for those who attend it and for what it does to support USD student scholarships," Heather says. "I personally want to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this event happen, from the wineries and alumni board members to a cross-section of USD staff and all of our volunteers. This event truly demonstrates the spirit of being a Torero!"

Heather, who has attended and has been involved with planning each year, says her participation is a great way to give back to her alma mater, to connect with other alumni and, simply, to have fun.

Since its establishment in 2006, the Alumni Endowed Scholarship has been able to provide much-needed scholarships for USD students. Recipients are all current students with financial need, strong academic merit, and experience giving back to the USD and local community.

The collective power of thousands of alumni, 90 percent of whom give between $50 and $250 a year, has enabled the growth of the scholarship fund. Proving that every gift matters, the goal of a $1 million endowment was met in June 2012. The Wine Classic event has been responsible for more than $200,000 in donations to the scholarship.

The 2014 USD Wine Classic is scheduled for Sunday, July 13.

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