Join Rotary for Wine, Cheese and a Side of Scholarships

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Scenes from previous pours.
Scenes from previous pours.

When Jeff Redeker went back to school, he was hit with a bit of sticker shock.

It wasn’t from the tuition; a pricey but expected expense. It was the books, computer programs and other items students spend money on during the semester that got him thinking.

He told his then wife, Kerri Redeker, that he wanted to do something to help students in Laguna Beach cover those expenses.

The idea blossomed with the help of their fellow Laguna Beach Rotary Club  members and is now the city’s largest annual wine tasting event, Grapes for Grads®.

“In the beginning, we were trying to grow it,” Kerri Redeker said. “Now, we have people coming to us asking “when is the Grapes for Grads thing?”

In fact, it’s gotten so big that the committee moved the 13thannual Grapes for Grads to a bigger location. The four-hour, April 22ndevent is moving to the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road.

Kerri Redeker thinks the reason Grapes for Grads resonates with people is because it’s a great event for a great cause.

The Laguna Beach Rotary Club puts every penny of its proceeds towards scholarships for students at Laguna Beach High School and Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD). They’ve raised more than $260,000 since the event started back in 2005.

This year, the Grape for Grads committee pledged to give a minimum of four scholarships (up to $2,000) to the college students and a minimum of four scholarships (up to $2,000) to the high school students.

Grapes for Grads organizers Jeff Redeker and Kerri Redeker.
Grapes for Grads organizers Jeff Redeker and Kerri Redeker.

The group is cautiously optimistic they will be able to give out more money though, Kerri Redeker said.

In 2017, Grapes for Grads gave out six additional $1,250 scholarships.

That money makes a difference.

“The generous Grapes for Grads scholarship is helping to ease the burden of the high cost of

higher education,” Thomas Gregory, a member for the Rotary’s Interact Club said. “It makes me proud to be from Laguna Beach, and I am most appreciative of the support given to me by our community and the Rotary Club.”

And LCAD student Amanda Gonzalez said her scholarship helped her move her graduation date up by taking “more classes than I would have been able to were I not granted this scholarship.”

Kerri Redeker also invites a handful of LCAD students to paint live during the event. It’s just one more element that helps make the event memorable.

The other details that stand out are the music, food, opportunities for prizes, silent auction and of course, the wine.

“You can have as many tastings as you want” for the $50 entry fee in advance and $60 at the door, Kerri Redeker said.  Tickets can be purchased online at

With 65-80 wine labels expected to bring more than 100 wines, that flat fee makes Grapes for Grads a great deal.

And for those who can afford to spend $2,500 or more, Grapes for Grads is offering something extra special this year: The chance to come an hour early for a wine pairing with a sommelier.

It’s just another way Grape for Grads committee members continue to make the event better.

“People have their birthday parties here, and they bring all their friends,” Kerri Redeker said. “It’s a fun way to spend a day on a weekend.”


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  1. It is a pretty fun event, I must say.

    We have a great team of volunteers that donate hundred’s of hours to make this event AMAZING!

    Remember, Grapes for Grads is at Festival of Arts this year. Bigger venue!

    Come out and support our local students.

    Make sure you seek me out and say hi.


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