This year, UNLVino landed during the perfect week of the spring season. As you know, UNLVino is an annual even that begin back in 1974 as a collaboration between Jerry Vallen UNLV William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, and Larry Ruvo Southern Wine and Spirits. Forty one years later, the collaboration continues, with the Hotel College and Southern Wine and Spirits working together to put on a great F&B centered event, while funding scholarships for UNLV Hotel College students. Each night, one Dom Perignon Award of Excellence is presented to a special honoree by the students who received UNLVino scholarships to go to the UNLV William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration.

Typically, UNLV Hotel College faculty and leadership are also present, and this year was no different. The Hotel College Dean Stowe Shoemaker attended, along with the newest President of UNLV, Len Jessup. It was President Jessup’s first UNLVino, which was very memorable for him. “This event has become a signature event for UNLV, not only because it’s wild and fun, and it’s a total blast, but because of everything it does for the students in our hotel program. The scholars are invaluable; it allows great students to come and be successful in a world-class program.”


Bubblicious was indeed a wonderful night to be outdoors, and the food and wine selections were plentiful. Guest artist Chadwick Johnson also provided the entertainment of the night, and sang a couple special songs to Chef Daniel Boulud e.g. “Wind Beneath My Wings”, and most importantly, Happy Birthday! Chef Boulud just celebrated his birthday on March 25th, so an impromptu mass happy birthday was celebrated on top of his wonderful Dom Perignon Award of Excellence.

Sake Fever

My F&B highlight for the night during Sake Fever was definitely the 200+ pound fresh tuna that was sliced to order! There was plenty of sake and other beverages available during this event, which was held poolside at the beautiful Red Rock Casino and Resort.

During Sake Fever, one of UNLV’s very own was the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence honoree: former Dean and current Presidential Advisor for Strategic Initiatives, Don Snyder. As a special surprise, Mr. Larry Ruvo decided to make an exception this year and present two awards during Sake Fever. Rather than only awarding Don Snyder, he also presented Snyder’s wife, Dee, with an award as well, due to the fact that the Snyders really do everything as a team with collaborative support. As Snyder stated, “Dee is a clear partner in everything that we collectively do in this community.”

Grand Tasting

The biggest event of the series, or grandest, I should say, continued to live up to its reputation. There were a number of great wineries, as well as other beverages, such as beer, spirits, cocktails, etc. The guest singer for the night was Frankie Moreno, and the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence was presented to Chef Steve Martorano. He also offered some words of wisdom to the UNLV Hotel College students and audience. “Never take no for an answer, and never give up. Always believe in yourself. No matter how many times they tell you no, you say yes… If it’s possible for me, Cuz, it’s possible for you!”

UNLVino continues to play a large part in the community and to the UNLV William F. Harrah College of Hotel administration. What a great way to bring lovers of food and beverage together annually, and for a great cause! Don Snyder’s speech during Sake Fever was really representative of the impact UNLVino has, so I will end with an excerpt of this speech.

“You can’t have a great community without a great university connected to that community. I will tell you that the Hotel College and UNLVino are the poster child for being connected… This is a wonderful tribute to the legacy that Larry Ruvo and Jerry Vallen created… You’re participating in something that is life-changing for a number of students. The other thing that I’ve been incredibly impressed with is the work experience it provides; we have something like 600 students involved with UNLVino. [It is] a tremendous opportunity to get real-world experience, things that are going to help them build their careers. And so, this event is something that, in all my work with the university and all my work with the community, I’ve not seen anything that touches lives like UNLVino.” - Don Snyder

Until next time,