Raising glasses, lifting classes 

The Manhattan Wine Auction is the signature event of the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation. Photo by Ken Pagliaro (KenPagliaro.com)

The Manhattan Wine Auction helps maintain the excellence of MBUSD classrooms 

by Mark McDermott 

One night each spring, something genuinely beautiful occurs in Manhattan Beach. Just off Rosecrans Avenue, six tennis courts are converted into a small village of joyous people with a shared intention. A community comes together to ensure that local education retains its excellence. 

The Manhattan Wine Auction, which takes place at the Manhattan Country Club/Bay Club, is the annual, signature event for the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation. The event raises over $1 million each year. Through the success of the Wine Auction, MBEF has built an endowment that disperses more than $1.1 million in grants annually to fund MBUSD education programs. Last year MBEF contribute $6.1 million to local schools. 

But the Wine Auction is about more than fundraising. MBEF executive director Hilary Mahan recalled the feeling at last year’s event, the first after the pandemic, when the celebratory feeling of a community coming together was palpable throughout the event. 

This specially designed label was created for the 2023 Manhattan Wine Auction, which will have a Napa Valley winery theme. Photo courtesy of MBEF

“The Manhattan Wine Auction, for the almost three decades it has been in existence, has been a culmination of the excitement of the year that is concluding for our students, and for the school year that’s upcoming,” Mahan said. “Each year, hundreds of volunteers get together to ensure that this one night is a magical experience for everyone involved. Last year, in 2022, was the first year we came together after two years of virtual events due to COVID. The success of that event —  the sentiment, the fundraising, and the overall sense of community — was absolutely phenomenal. You could not walk the courts of the Manhattan Country Club without just seeing smiles radiating.” 

The night set a new fundraising record. But what everyone present took away from the event was a special sense of how the fabric of Manhattan Beach is bound together by the love for its schools. 

“The guests were overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement for being able to be together and celebrate our schools once again,” Mahan said. “And we hit it out of the park….Last year was a record year for us. I expect 2023 will be more of the same.” 

This year’s event takes place Saturday, June10. Judging from ticket sales, Mahan’s expectation is likely to be met and possibly exceeded. The event added a seventh tennis court to its footprint, which equates to 200 more guests. Yet on May 1, when the tickets went on sale, the Wine Auction was sold out by 1 p.m. People are still signing up for the waiting list. 

“We’re constantly looking at our numbers, because we would love to be able to get as many people in as possible,” Mahan said. 

At last year’s event, MBEF started a new tradition, the Legacy Award , which honors individuals who have helped the foundation achieve its mission. Last year, Chevron’s Rod Spackman was the recipient. This year, Brad Jones, and Joan Jones will receive the honor. 

“They have each been integral to our success,” Mahan said. 

 The Wine Auction features over 80 wineries, 50 restaurants, several local breweries, and a few distilleries. It also features live, and silent auctions for wines as well as meals, vacations, and various goods and services donated by local businesses. The event isa who’s who of local dignitaries and a networking extravaganza. Ultimately, though, the Wine Auction is the biggest single day in support of schools in Manhattan Beach. 

See MBEF.org or ManhattanWineAuction.com for more information. ER


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