The fifth annual University of San Diego Wine Classic, held this past Sunday, 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 and participated in a raffle and silent and live auctions with wine-related items.
“Overall, it was a really successful event,” said Heather Manly ’02, ’05, the USD Wine Classic Committee chairperson.
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,” said Wine Classic Committee Chair and USD alumna Heather Manly ’02, ’05, about Saturday’s dinner. “It was a nice, quiet 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, Manly said.
“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 fundraising idea, did a presentation 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.
Manly 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.”
“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. 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!”
Manly, who has attended and has been involved with planning for each of the Wine Classics, said her participation is a great way to give back to her alma mater, to connect with other alumni and, simply, to have fun.
“From day one, it’s been really special to be involved and to see it grow each year. I’m honored to be a part of it.”
The 2014 USD Wine Classic is scheduled for Sunday, July 13.
— Ryan T. Blystone