BC hosts the Red and White Wine Festival


Tim Bohan and Sandy Neblett stops by one of many wine tables set at the event, Anthony Finocchiaro pours fills them a glass.

Samantha Briggs, Reporter

By Samantha Briggs


The Bakersfield Foundation held the annual Red and White Wine and Food Festival at Bakersfield College on April 12. The event took place on the lawn area north of Memorial Stadium.

The gated area was packed with over 400 enthusiastic wine lovers, some who come to the extravagant event every year and some who are first timers. The diverse group took part in enjoying wines from more than 50 different California wineries. The BC jazz ensemble played jazz music, and BC culinary arts students prepared hors d’ouvres.

“This is a great event to showcase what the culinary arts program can do,” BC Foundation donor relations coordinator Hannah Egland said about the event.

“They do a lot more than just classroom things, they do catering. This is really an opportunity for the community to come and taste their food and know what they are capable of doing.”

The proceeds from the event will support many scholarships for BC students.

“The proceeds are split three ways, between the culinary arts department, the BC Jazz ensemble and the Renegade Fund, which is unrestricted funds that we are able to direct to the neediest places on campus,” Egland said.

Egland would not consider herself a wine enthusiast due to allergies, but she speaks very highly of executive director and wine aficionado Mike Stepanovich.

“Mike Stepanovich, our director, loves wine and he judges wine competitions. It’s his life,” Egland said.

“It’s really because of his connections within the wine community that we are able to put on this event. Because of him we have the vintners actually here. Other events may have wine for a tasting but we have over 50 vintners here pouring their wine.” Stepanovich has been judging wines since 1987 and is an avid wine collector with over 2,400 bottles. Stepanovich also teaches wine history and wine appreciation classes.

“I have a great passion for wine; to me it’s an agricultural product,” Stepanovich said about his love for wine.

“I’ve been a wine writer since 1985 and I’ve been a wine educator since 1990. I teach classes at Cal State Northridge, Cal State Bakersfield and now Bakersfield College. Since 2000 I’ve made my own wine.” Stepanovich appreciates the support from the community to BC.

“It’s been great seeing so many people from the community come here.  People come back and they get to reconnect with Bakersfield College,” Stepanovich said.

“They get to come and taste great wine, they get to taste the great food that the culinary arts students have prepared, and they get to listen to the amazing music that our jazz ensemble is going to perform,” said Stepanovich about the festivities. Faculty, staff and alumni all come to this classy event to support the efforts of the Bakersfield College Foundation.

“I’ve poured for the event for four years, and I’m actually a graduate of BC. I enjoy coming out to support the college,” said Bakersfield College alumni Craig Holland.

“The highlight of the event for me is getting to catch up with people I went to school with and trying the various foods the culinary arts program has prepared,” Holland said about enjoying his time at the event. The attendee most looking forward to hearing the jazz assemble was retired BC band director Kenneth Fahsbender.

He and his wife come to the event every year. “Kris Tiner and the jazz ensemble have been phenomenal,” Fahsbender said.

Among the four hundred attendees was Sonya Christian, the BC president. “This is my first time at the Red and White wine festival,” she said. “It is one of our signature community building events. It’s great to have people from all over Bakersfield to come and celebrate our campus.”

“The BC foundation builds friendships within the community and when you build friends you build people who actually write checks to the school for student scholarships, and as you know, many of the students who come to BC really need that support,” said Christian about her expectations of the fundraiser.

“This event is extremely important to the school.”