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Toast to a Successful Virtual USD Wine Classic: $80,000 Raised for Scholarship Support

Toast to a Successful Virtual USD Wine Classic: $80,000 Raised for Scholarship Support

Doing a virtual toast from coast to coast, which was necessitated by a coronavirus pandemic preventing an in-person gathering, did not put a damper on the 12th annual University of San Diego Wine Classic on July 11.

Virtual USD Wine Classic 2020

As more than 500 registered online guests from New York to Hawaii and all points in between sipped their own wine, nibbled on cheese and items on charcuterie boards and other foods to pair together, the 2020 virtual USD Wine Classic had one of its best-ever days for fun and to raise more than $80,000 in net proceeds to support current-use scholarship funds for underrepresented USD students.

The Wine Classic, the signature annual fundraising event for the USD Alumni Association, was shown live online on the event’s website (replay is still available). There was a 15-minute pre-show followed by an hour-long main program with co-hosts Charles Bass, USD’s senior director for alumni relations, and Clint Bell, a professional auctioneer, managing the show. Activities and content included CEG Interactive’s virtual photo booth, live and silent auctions, raffle, trivia, and special messages from USD Board of Trustee member Kim Busch and her family, USD President James T. Harris, Alumni Association members. There was also a house band, The B Sections, who played during the pre-show and after the last live auction items were claimed.

There was an online marketplace website for those interested in purchasing wines — many with special discounts — to support USD-affiliated wineries up and down the state of California. There are online specials that are valid through July 31. Straight donations to the scholarship fund are also welcome.

It was apparent everywhere you turned that a virtual Wine Classic, rather than being at USD’s beautiful Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice space — the Garden of the Sea — was a worthwhile opportunity for Toreros to be together.

“We had to do a little pivoting, but because of our amazing volunteers, our unbelievable sponsors, fantastic winery partners and more, we’ve gone over the $70,000 mark,” Bass said late in the broadcast. “Thank you to everybody who has been a part of this.”

That figure jumped to $80,000 after the show ended, both Bass and Coreen Petti, associate vice president of university events and partnerships at USD, confirmed. The 2020 net proceeds amount pushed the total for scholarship funding to over $730,000 in the history of the Wine Classic.

This made the 2020 USD Wine Classic Committee — co-chairs Annie Toth ’07 and Sam Assael ’02, Kimberly Alessio ’87, Lisa Baldocchi ’87, ’98 (MBA), Kevin Dooley ’93, Mary Ann Falcosky (women’s basketball associate head coach), Bryce Lyon ’12, ’14 (MEd) and Nadia Pandes ’93, ’01 (MBA) — quite happy.

A special thank you goes to the generous support of the following USD Wine Classic 2020 Vintage Sponsors: Union Bank, Alex Beaton Real Estate, Buchalter, Bartell Hotels, and U.S. Bank. The USD Wine Classic Virtual Photo Booth was powered by CEG Interactive.

Additional sponsorship support came from the following: Magnum Sponsors — 101 Things to Do in San Diego, Helen ’81 and John ’80 Finneran, and Mary M. O’Connor, D.D.S. Torero Taste Sponsors — Kim ’87 and Marco ’84 Alessio, Vickie ’74 and Steve ’71 Nasman, RJS Law (Ronson Shamoun ’98, ’02 JD), Annie Toth ’07 and SJ Creations (Rich Yousko ’87). Vine Sponsors — Valerie Attisha ’94 and Jason Harmon ’20 (MS), John ’69 and Michele McCoy, Reveel (Chad Beville ’05), Home Bank of California (Andres Melgar ’02), Shelby ’94 and Vince ’95 Moiso, Nadia ’93, ’01 and Vincent ’92 Pandes, B. Wood Insurance Agency (Ben Wood ’99, Bryan Wood ’00). In-Kind Sponsor — Folded Hills.

And, of course, the USD Wine Classic wouldn’t be a classic without USD-affiliated wines and wineries. Several auction items and more came from the 2020 participating wineries: 2Plank Vineyards, Vista, Calif.; Andrew Geoffrey Vineyards, St. Helena, Calif.; Bernardo Winery, San Diego; Brooks Note Winery, Novato, Calif.; CADE Estate Winery, Napa, Calif; Caymus Vineyards, Rutherford, Calif.; Dark Water Winery, Lompoc, Calif.; Eleven Eleven Winery, Napa, Calif.; Emmolo Wines, Napa, Calif.; Folded Hills Winery, Gaviota, Calif.; Gen 7 Wines, Napa, Calif.; La Finquita Winery, Ramona, Calif.; Maestri Italiani Winery, National City, Calif.; Mountain View Vintners Backstage Winery, Napa, Calif.; Peachy Canyon, Templeton, Calif.; Peltier Winery and Vineyards, Lodi, Calif.; San Savino Vineyards, Napa, Calif.; Stehleon Vineyards, Escondido, Calif.; St. Francis Winery and Vineyards, Santa Rosa, Calif.; Vincent Arroyo Winery, Calistoga, Calif.; and Willamette Valley Vineyards, Turner, Oregon.

Planning is already shifting to 2021. The date for the 13th annual USD Wine Classic, expected to be held in the KIPJ Garden of the Sea again, is slated for July 10, 2021.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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