Educational Taste of Excellence – CDF Annual Fundraiser


Dr. Joni

CDF is the Cultural Diversity Foundation, and I’ve been volunteering as a pourer for years!

Dr. Joni Flowers (EdD) is the founder, President, Director, and main driver of CDF. She received her Doctorate of Education, Instructional Technology with an emphasis in Distance Education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Dr. Flowers served as a member of the American Association of University Women, American Education Research Association, EDUCAUSE, American Library Association, and Black Professional Women’s Alliance.

Dr. Flowers is also a full-time professor for the School of Education, College of Southern Nevada (CSN). She has been teaching there for 40 years

In 1996, Dr. Flowers founded and organized the annual scholarship benefit, Educational Taste of Excellence: Wine Tasting, Spirits, and Jazz, and somehow manages to put together a flawless event year after year.

The Venue

Yes, that’s an ice sculpture!

The location used to be called the International. After that, it was the Hilton. Now it’s Westgate and its latest iteration continues the classic look and style of the old international. The International, by the way, was the Las Vegas “home” of Elvis Presley.

The Cultural Diversity Foundation wine-tasting event has been located here for the last few years. I think it is the ideal location because it is off the Strip and easy to access. As usual, I decided to take Lyft to Westgate because occasionally they will allow us workers to have a drink at the end of the evening. That did not happen this time, and that was fine.

The Conference Center’s room was expansive, and there were tablecloth-draped tables everywhere. Special conversation seating areas had not been there before but had been reserved by various groups. Naturally, I was there early since I had volunteered to pour.

As workers and other people trickled in, we got to see some of the wines that were going to be available for pouring. There were everything from New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs to German whites to Bordeaux (including Margaux!) and deep dark Argentinian wines. There were also spirits.

My table during setup

As always, the doors opened at 6:00 PM, and people came in. Many people were dressed casually, others were dressed in their finest. And, of course, everyone had to check the silent auction. I threw my bids in because there were a couple of items I really wanted. Included was a hockey stick signed by all of the Vegas Golden Knights. I didn’t win. Dammit!

Most of the pourers were hospitality students from UNLV. For some, it was their first time participating in such an event, and for others, especially seniors, this was already a part of their work experience. There were just a few of us who were not students but were experienced people who could help the brand-new students become comfortable with the wines. I helped at the Bordeaux table and the Italian table assisting them in correct pronunciations. Honestly, there were a couple that I didn’t know, but I gave it my best shot.

The Event

An Educational “Toast” to Excellence took place before the festivities began. It’s traditional!

The Educational Taste of Excellence showcased a meticulously curated selection of over 110 wines, offering wine enthusiasts and newbies alike a unique opportunity to explore a diverse range of flavors and regions.

While many of the pourers were UNLV Hospitality students, the event also featured a few Sommeliers and seasoned wine connoisseurs. They ensured that guests could have their questions answered and gain insights into each wine.

In addition to the extensive wine and spirits selection, the event also boasted a tantalizing array of culinary delights. Food from some of Las Vegas’s finest chefs was available for guests to enjoy.

The foods were largely hors d’oeuvres and ranged from pizza to steakhouse, chocolate to Bundt cake (!!), charcuterie samples, and more. Much, much more! While I managed to taste a few wines, I tried to sample every food, but that was not possible!

Along with the wine and food offerings, there was the jazz. All evening (in between scholarship presentations, testimonials, and live auction) we were regaled by the soulful tunes of saxophonist Darren Motamedy.

Taking a Sip for a Scholarship – The Cause

The purpose of CDF is to provide opportunities for education and fostering cultural diversity. The scholarships help to assist young people in their educational pursuits and provide low-cost computer education for adults.

I threw my bids in because there were a couple of items I really wanted. Included was a hockey stick signed by all of the Vegas Golden Knights. I didn’t win. Dammit!

This event raises funds for educational scholarships and computer classes for deserving students from diverse backgrounds. Donations directly impact these students, providing them with the resources they need to succeed academically and professionally. Proceeds will contribute to educational scholarships for deserving students from diverse backgrounds.

Our event doesn’t just stop at scholarships. We also offer computer classes tailored to the needs of those preparing for job readiness, higher learning, or personal growth. These classes are a gateway to achieving one’s highest educational and professional goals, making your donations even more impactful.

We want to create a sense of community and allow guests to network with like-minded individuals who share a passion for wine and philanthropy.

Taste of Excellence 2023

Enjoy the video!


Vegas Wineaux
Vegas Wineaux
Life now, especially after leaving the day job, is even crazier! I hope that you continue to follow and enjoy the wine and Vegas news!


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