BC Foundation hosts Red & White festival at Bakersfield College
April 21, 2010
Filed under Campus
Local wine aficionados raised their glasses to a good cause at Bakersfield College’s third annual Red & White Wine & Food Festival on April 16. The proceeds of the event, which took place in the grassy area north of Memorial Stadium, went to the BC Foundation and to the BC culinary arts program. Wine was provided by 68 wineries and the food was catered by BC culinary students.
The BC Foundation put on the event, and donor relations for the foundation, Hannah Egland, explained how long they had been planning the festival.
“Mike [Stepanovich, director of the BC Foundation] starts planning at the beginning of the year, when he calls all the wineries,” said Egland. “As a hobby, Mike is a wine expert, he writes a wine column for Bakersfield Magazine, he judges wine contests, and he has a personal connection with the wineries. He uses those connections to contact them about three months before the event.”
In its three years, the wine festival has already acquired some regular vintner vendors. Carol Hinkle of Rio Seco Vineyard and Winery in Paso Robles, said her winery has been coming to the festival since it started.
“We consider it a privilege when Mike calls and invites us. It’s a wonderful community, this is one of our favorite events,” said Hinkle. “Everyone is appreciative, it’s a wonderful cause, and the culinary students do a wonderful job. Bakersfield is our backyard, so it’s nice to be able to make a connection here.”
Rio Seco is a family business, according to Hinkle, with “mom, dad and kids working the ranch.” She said it is important for people to come to events like the wine festival not only to support local students, but also to learn about the tastes and intricacies of wine.
“This event gives people a chance to talk to winemakers. You could try just the cabernets and taste 68 wines,” Hinkle said. “Wine is so complementary to food; if you think of dinner and a Diet Pepsi or dinner and wine, wine is the perfect accompaniment to food.”
In addition to California wines, guests were able to try international wines courtesy of two local wine bars, Valentien Restaurant and Wine Bar and Imbibe Wine and Spirits Merchant.
According to Egland, this was a first for the wine festival. Richard Gilpin, a self-proclaimed “wine nerd” from Imbibe, explained why they brought international wines, including a German Riesling and Australian Shiraz.
“We knew there would be a lot of California wines here, so we brought some wine from around the world, from Italy, Argentina, Spain, Germany, to give people something different,” said Gilpin. “These wines are really planned for food, for the table, whereas in California, wines are more of a cocktail. We want people to try wines they wouldn’t get to otherwise.”
Many attendees of the wine festival were fans of the international wines. Stephanie Ott, 29, and Whitney White, 23, both said they loved the German Riesling. White described it as “sweet, but refreshing.” Ott and White attended the festival with White’s grandmother Barbara Monan and Marie McNamee. Ott said she has wine preferences, but “after the first glass, I’ll drink anything.”
“We’re not real picky,” added Monan. “It’s pretty bad when a grandmother drags her granddaughter to a wine-tasting. But it’s a very nice party, it always is.”
Carl Guilford, 54, said he’s been a wine fan since he was in college and has enjoyed trying new wine ever since.
“I grew up in Florida, where they have no concept of wine. I started drinking cheap wine in college in Georgia, and I thought that was wine,” he said. “Then I went to Germany as an exchange student and tried some great wines. I brought that back to the U.S. I moved to California and went to wine country, and I fell in love. It’s been a long love story.”
Guilford said his favorite wine at the festival was the Silver Oak cabernet.
“I like a hearty red wine,” Guilford said. “It was very smooth, velvety and had a strong earthy flavor without being dirty.”
Guilford was not the only one claiming a Silver Oak wine as his favorite.
Several attendees told Scott Thompson of Silver Oak Cellars, which has wineries in both Napa Valley and Alexander Valley, that their wine was the best.
“It’s very humbling to hear that. Silver Oak is very well known in the community, and it’s been the number one cabernet in the U.S. for 20 years,” said Thompson. “It’s a very well known wine and people love it. The cool thing is everyone has a Silver Oak story, because everyone’s been drinking it for so long.”
Nicole Almengor, 23, enjoyed her time at the Red & White Wine & Food Festival.
“It was nice. I would come back,” she said. “It was worth the money.”