Chef Thomas Keller and myself (Alice Swift) at Bubblicious 2013 - photos courtesy Alice Swift

This year, UNLVino celebrates its 45th anniversary; can you believe it? There have been many variations over the decades, changes in location, theme, number of days, honorees, etc. What has remained a constant since its beginnings back in 1974, is the millions of dollars in scholarships raised to benefit the students of the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality at UNLV. 

I can only imagine the millions, maybe even billions of memories that have been created over the course of nearly 50 years. Personally, I have grown my own special relationship with UNLVino over the past eight years. Below are some of the stories behind my connections, along with my most memorable moments. 

The Beginnings

My first experience attending UNLVino was back in 2011. I learned about this event when we took a trip to UNLV in the spring while my husband interviewed for the Executive Chef position at the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality (formerly Hotel Administration), a position now held by Chef Mark Sandoval. It was such an amazing experience, and it definitely helped solidify our collective decision to move to Las Vegas and work at UNLV. 

5 years of UNLVino Coverage in The LVFnB Professional

Shortly thereafter, beginning in August, 2011, my husband and I moved from LA to Las Vegas, where I joined The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional as a journalist, and decided on the name “Wine Talk” for my monthly magazine column. Coincidentally, I also began working at UNLV as a part-time instructor teaching beverage/hospitality classes for the Hospitality College and took advantage of the opportunity to volunteer at upcoming UNLVino events as a faculty support. For the first few years, I helped out where I was needed and really appreciated seeing everything behind the scenes. In 2013, I wrote my first article interviewing the 2013 UNLVino management class and faculty while they were in the planning stages of the large-scale event (see for the archived article). 

Beginning in 2015, I started my annual tradition of covering UNLVino events each year from the pre-UNLVino planning, to the post-event coverage. I also wrote two cover stories in 2017 ( and 2018 ( 

My Favorite UNLVino Year? 

Although I don’t necessarily remember all the happenings from the 2014 UNLVino, it would probably be one of my most memorable years. I had the great honor of meeting and capturing a photo with the world renowned Chef Thomas Keller, who was the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence Honoree that year. 

Most Impressive Moment? 

Watching master sushi chefs from Naked Fish breaking down a 240 lb tuna. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience for those who enjoy their sushi and sashimi! 

Let’s continue on the UNLVino legacy while supporting my alma mater, William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, in providing scholarships to students! 

Tickets for this year’s UNLVino are now on sale. Information is shared below:

45th Annual UNLVino

• Dates - April 11-13, 2019 

• Website -

• For tickets go to -

While I may not be able to attend UNLVino annually anymore (since I now live in Hawaiʻi), I will live vicariously through the thousands of attendees and the continued memories that will grow and thrive year after year. 

Until next month, Cheers~!