The 33rd Wine Experience concluded with the Grand Award Banquet, a chance to honor several notable winemakers and restaurateurs. It also included a surprise announcement: a $1 million gift that could help train the leading restaurateurs of tomorrow.
The Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation will donate $1 million to Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, a leading institution for food and beverage education. The hospitality program, consistently rated as one of the best in the nation, has more than 1,500 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs at its North Miami campus and another 1,000 at a campus in the port city of Tianjin, China. The school established the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, with the help of Southern Wine & Spirits, to raise money for its efforts.
In September, the school opened a restaurant management laboratory at its Miami campus, offering students the chance to learn and practice restaurant management and beverage service techniques in a state-of-the-art facility. It will now be known as the Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Laboratory.
“Our partnership with Wine Spectator is an exciting new venture that will support our School’s endeavor to develop the next generation of restaurant professionals,” said Mike Hampton, Dean, Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. “The restaurant management lab will provide the kinds of unique, real-world experiences our students look for in pursuing successful careers.”
The Wine Experience brings together leaders of the wine world with some of wine’s biggest fans, but it is also a charitable endeavor. The proceeds go to the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation, which has raised more than $15 million for wine and food education endeavors over the past 30 years. “We have helped kids get through school at top programs,” said Marvin R. Shanken, Wine Spectator editor and publisher. “We are always eager to help the next generation of top professionals and fuel their passion." He was joined by Hampton, Southern Wine & Spirits president and COO Wayne Chaplin and FIU vice president George Corton on stage Saturday night.
“We are extremely grateful to Marvin Shanken and our long-time friends at Wine Spectator for their support for FIU’s new teaching restaurant management lab,” said Chaplin.
Foundation beneficiaries have included students at the University of California at Davis Department of Viticulture & Enology (over the past 30 years, 582 scholarships and research grants have been awarded to students at U.C. Davis), the Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. Those scholarships wouldn’t be possible without the enthusiasm of Wine Experience attendees and the generosity of wineries, which donate both the wines tasted and the winemakers’ time.