Think you know what happened at Grapes & Hops to Grads? Think again. Sip, savor, and silent auction was the name of the game on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at Arapahoe Community College’s 8th annual Grapes & Hops to Grads, held at the Maserati Showroom of Mike Ward Automotive.
New this year was a VIP room which gave VIP ticket holders access to hors-d’oeuvres, an open bar, special guests, and premium pours. Mark Randall, former Colorado Nuggets player and coach, and Libby Weaver, former Fox 31 news anchor, mingled in the VIP room with guests. LIDO Wine Merchants provided tastes of fine wines which normally retail from $38 to $51 a bottle.
In addition, the Grapes & Hops to Grads fundraiser went high tech. Using ReadySetAuction, this year’s silent auction bidding was conducted online. This allowed advanced viewing of auction items through an online catalog. Bidding could be conducted via smartphones or tablets. An African safari trip for two and a Maserati for the weekend were just two packages of the packages that drew in donations.
The event featured Weaver as emcee of the evening. ACC president, Diana Doyle, along with Weaver facilitated the agenda from “Heads or Tails,” a game in which participants paid $20 to choose which side of a coin would win them a gift basket full of wine, to recognize the many sponsors supporting education in the community.
Also new this year was an event planner, Robin Loughran of Ducks in a Row Events. Loughran, daughter of Dr. Richard and Michele Steckel of the ACC Milestones Project, gave the event the VIP treatment and planning. Courtney Loehfelm, Executive Director of the ACC Foundation, attributes many of the changes to the event to Loughran’s involvement.
This year boasted 19 food and beverage vendors spread over 30 tables. The standout food included Taco Mojo’s top-your-own grilled chicken street tacos, Platte River’s ranchero beans, The Alley’s spicy chile relleno with green chile, the Viewhouse’s southwest egg roll, Uncorked Kitchen’s crab cakes with tomato jam, and Harley’s toga hot dog with homemade gyro meat and spicy tzatziki sauce.
LIDO Wine Merchants provided a dozen wine tasting stations serving 69 different wines to all general ticket holders. They, along with Downslope Distilling, Rocker Spirits and 38 State Brewing Company, ensured that glasses were never empty throughout the evening. Rocker’s Spirits took guests on a trip to warmer times with their “Kill Dill” cocktail featuring cucumber, dill, lime, and vodka as well as a taste of their take on the classic old-fashioned. Taste buds were taken “where doves sing,” with Colorado winery Avant Vineyard’s “où les colombes chantent” provided by LIDO Wine Merchants.
Guests were encouraged to take a swing at the golf simulator and to snap a memory of the experience at Hipster Mama’s photo booth where you could say cheese, sign your snap, add emojis, and print a copy to take home.
Food and wine aficionados alike were able to bump elbows with ACC’s finest in the form of alumni, faculty, and sponsors as the crowd drank, ate and mingled — all while supporting their community.
Funds raised came from ticket sales, the donation envelopes that littered cocktail tables, silent auction profits, mystery wine bottle sales, heads or tails participants and 10% of all wine sales from the evening.
With over 250 people in attendance, the event has grown significantly since it was first held in the backroom of the now-closed Cafe De France restaurant in 2010.
While final numbers are not yet in, Loehfelm is certain that this year’s event raised more money than in the past. In addition, all of the donations from the evening will be doubled. “We’re able to match them dollar for dollar, thanks to the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative,” says Loehfelm.
The money is used to provide scholarships, child care stipends, mini-grants for innovation and tutoring programs at ACC. According to the ACC website, the foundation’s entire purpose is to provide opportunities for education to individuals and to strengthen the local economy by building an educated workforce. Last year, ACCF gave over $500,000 in scholarship money to approximately 200 students.
In addition to Grapes & Hops to Grads, ACCF raises fund through the Affordable Arts Festival each August and the Scholarship Luncheon each April. Like Grapes & Hope to Grads, the Scholarship Luncheon is slated for a significant make-over.
“When you’re out and about and need to choose a place for lunch or dinner or coffee or cupcakes, please choose them. They support education,” says Courtney Loehfelm, Executive Director of ACC Foundation.
Mike Ward Automotive
LIDO Wine Merchants
The South Metro Villager
Colorado Business Bank
Camp Bow Wow
Express Employment Professionals
Nova Home Loans
Call to Arms Brewing Company
Romano’s Italian Restaurant
Harley’s Hot Dogs
Saint Patrick’s Brewing Company
Nothing Bundt Cakes
38 State Brewing Company
Platte River Bar & Grill