One of the finest traditions in the 44 year history of UNLVino, the Dom Pérignon Award of Excellence is presented to those who have set themselves apart and inspired others through exemplary leadership, character, and work ethic. Those who have received this honor include some of Las Vegas’ finest chefs, restaurateurs, industry leaders, philanthropists, academics, and more.

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A legacy for all time

Few Nevadans have held such greater influence over their industries than Donald Louis Carano. A native of Reno, Mr. Carano is celebrated for his 85 years of accomplishments, including the founding of landmark businesses Eldorado Resorts, the prestigious McDonald Carano law firm, and the Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery.

Recognized throughout his career as a compassionate leader and philanthropist, Mr. Carano’s list of accolades includes the Distinguished Nevadan recognition from the University of Nevada in Reno, the Nevada Food and Beverage Directors Association Man-of-the-Year Award, the American Lung Association Distinguished Community Service Award, Hotelier of the Year Award, “Knight in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic” by the Consul General of Italy, University of San Francisco Law School’s Alumnus of the Year, International Restaurant and Hospitality Rating Bureau’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the WIBC Gladys M. Banker Friendship Award, and he has been inducted into the International Gaming and Wagering Business Hall of Fame.

Donald Carano passed away on October 3, 2017. At the 44th UNLVino, we will honor his incredible accomplishments, and the legacy he leaves – one that will touch Nevadans for generations to come.

“Great wine begins in the vineyard.” – Donald Carano

In 1981, after having left an indelible mark on Nevada’s gaming industry, Donald Carano turned his interests toward winemaking. A believer in lifelong learning – he had earned an undergraduate degree at the University of San Francisco and graduated with honors from USF Law School – Mr. Carano began studying the art and techniques of winemaking, and later founded Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery with his wife, Rhonda.

Today, Mr. Carano’s award-winning legacy is alive and well in Northern California, where Ferrari-Carano owns more than 19 vineyards and continues to receive awards for its magnificent variety of wines.

Every year, visitors from around the globe travel to wine country for white wine tastings at Ferrari-Carano’s Villa Fiore Wine Shop and Tasting Room at the Estate Winery in Dry Creek Valley, and on the east side of Alexander Valley, they flock to the Mountain Winery, home to Ferrari-Carano’s red wines.

The Carano family and the Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery have long been affiliated with Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits. We are proud to honor this everlasting friendship at the 44th UNLVino.

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Hospitality Trailblazer

Ann Hoff is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Las Vegas’ famed Excalibur Hotel & Casino, and is responsible for overseeing all operations at the 4,000-room resort.

Ms. Hoff has been a trailblazer in hospitality and gaming for decades, earning a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of Nevada of Las Vegas, and later earning a position in the Management Associate Program at The Mirage. She was quickly promoted to International Sales Manager and later Assistant Director of Leisure Marketing, where she continued to make an impact during a booming period on the Las Vegas Strip.

In 1993, Ms. Hoff joined the Treasure Island opening team as Assistant Director of Sales. Four years later, she was promoted to Director of Hotel Marketing at Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi, where she served on the pre-opening team, which led to another promotion to Executive Director of Hotel Marketing for the property.

In 2001, Ms. Hoff returned to Treasure Island as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and in 2005 became Vice President of Hotel Operations at New York-New York, serving a dual role in which she was responsible for food and beverage, operations and entertainment.

Ms. Hoff is a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of Global Gaming Women, and also serves on the Opportunity Village Foundation Board and Vegas Velocity Youth Volleyball Board. Within MGM Resorts International she is the Executive Chair for our Emerging Leaders Network Group. Her past involvement has included the Nevada Hotel Motel Lodging Association, and the Valley High School Academy of Hospitality and Tourism. She has been affiliated with several industry associations including Meeting Planners International, American Bus Association, National Tour Association and American Society of Association Executives.  She also served on the Board of the Hotel Lodging Association.

Ms. Hoff is a 2010 Graduate of Leadership Las Vegas.  In 2011, she was recognized as one of 17 “Women to Watch” honorees by “In Business Las Vegas”. Most recently, she was honored to be included as one of UNLV’s 50 Most Intriguing Alumni and one of 25 People to Watch by Global Gaming Business Magazine.

For her contributions to the industry and the Las Vegas community, Ms. Hoff will be honored with the Dom Pérignon Award of Excellence at the 44th UNLVino.


Jan Jones Blackhurst
Elizabeth Blau
Daniel Boulud
Romero Britto
Mitsuo Endo
Robert Goldstein
David Hoenemeyer
Tony Hsieh
Thomas Keller
Wolfgang Puck
Michael Richard
Larry Ruvo
John Taffer
Jerry Vallen
Renee West