Champagne well-wishes for Robin Leach to flow at UNLVino

Robin Leach has built a career around “champagne wishes and caviar dreams.” The champagne will be flowing in his honor at Saturday’s 44th UNLVino at Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, Cleveland Clinic.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist and avid fundraiser for the Cleveland Clinic will be honored with a Dom Perignon 21-cork salute during the UNLVino festivities. The tribute is among many highlights of the gala, which runs for a single night from 7-11 p.m. inside the Ruvo Center’s Keep Memory Alive Event Center and adjacent outdoor property.

“This is a chance for students to recognize role models past, present and future,” said UNLVino organizer Michael Severino, who also is the senior director of special events and marketing for sponsor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Nevada. “This is a nod to Robin. Before there was Food Network (which Leach helped launch) and Travel Channel, there was ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.’ Robin has unselfishly contributed his knowledge and support to this industry and to this event.”

Leach has been an an annual attendee at UNLVino and a major supporter of the program that raises scholarship funds for UNLV’s’ William F. Harrah College of Hospitality. He is unable to attend this year, though, as he remains hospitalized in Cleveland during his recovery from a stroke he had in November.

Leach has been alternating between the Cleveland Clinic ICU and a nearby rehabilitation center.

Robin’s son Steve Leach said he hopes to have his father back in Las Vegas within 30 days. Robin is undergoing speech therapy. The younger Leach said his dad is speaking some clear words and is eager to be home to see his friends.

Apart from the salute to Leach, the event will honor late French chef Paul Bocuse with the release of 1,926 red, white, and blue balloons. Bocuse was born in 1926 in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, France. He emerged as a trendsetter in nouvelle cuisine and has been an inspiration to generations of culinary students.

Saturday’s event also will posthumously honor Donald Louis Carano with a Dom Perignon Award of Excellence, which recognizes leadership in the wine, culinary and hospitality industries. A Reno native, Carano founded Eldorado Resorts, the McDonald Carano law firm, and Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery. The other Dom Perignon honoree, Ann Hoff, is president and chief operating officer of Excalibur on the Strip.