Gauchos Gather for a Taste of Memories, Wine, Beer, and Food


Isabelle Geczy
News Editor

Work hard but play harder—said phrase might as well be the unofficial anthem for attendees of the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

In such a spirit, alumni and students alike descended upon the Science Green on April 26 for “Taste of UCSB,” an event that featured samplings from over 40 Gaucho-owned breweries, wineries, and restaurants. Vendors ran the gamut from esteemed breweries like Firestone Walker Brewing Co. to Isla Vista favorite,  Silvergreens. 

A relatively new addition to the annual host of “All Gaucho Reunion” events, “Taste of UCSB” has grown significantly in popularity and cachet. Associate Director of Alumni Relations John Loftus, class of ‘00, stated that the first year the event was held, the event was limited exclusively to wine tasting, where roughly 300 people attended. For the 2015 celebration, nearly 1,300 Gauchos participated, with a range of tasty offerings available. 

Attendees were each handed a personal wine glass upon entry in an effort equally committed to commemoration and sustainability. Four large tents housed the array of vendors, and participants strolled through the grass, sipping and noshing happily. Live music provided by Battle of the Bands participants Dad Clothes and alumni musician Dave Pascoe offered a pleasant atmosphere. Throughout the lawn various standing and banquet tables were arranged as well, allowing attendees to sample and chat. 

Xochilt Basulto, class of ‘99, discussed her appreciation for the event, adding that the mixing of age groups and graduation years led to a unique experience. 

“I think this event is what makes the weekend,” said Basulto. “Just because, I think you’re seeing different generations. You’re seeing different faces, you run into people that maybe you went to school with, you may see some […] co-workers, because I have seen some people that maybe look familiar but you wouldn’t know that they went to UCSB.”

Basulto added that she credits her years at UCSB for her ability to lead a diverse, balanced life—a trait, she said, that helps upon entering the workforce and in the long-term. 

“If you were to do a survey on the professions that are here, you’re going to find a bit of everything because we are balanced,” said Basulto. “By the time you graduate here you learn to pass your classes, and then learn to drink and be social. That’s what you need to be successful in life. You don’t just want to be behind a desk.”

The many alumni brewers and vintners echoed this statement. Kathleen Inman, class of ‘84, credited UCSB with spurring her interest in winemaking. A native of Napa Valley, Inman became intrigued by the process of growing and creating wine after taking a wine-tasting class at UCSB. 

“I didn’t really learn about wine at home because my family didn’t drink,” said Inman. “[The wine tasting classes] got me hooked on wine in terms of how interesting it is, and that it really reflects the place that it’s grown and the person that makes it.” 

Inman’s interest in wine would lead her to a job at a winery in her hometown over a summer break. It was this curiosity, and a fortuitous decision to participate in EAP, that led her to her husband Simon. Inman said that on her first day working in the tasting room, Simon came in to celebrate the wedding of his sister. He was visiting all the way from England. 

“I knew I was going to be on EAP and study in the UK, so I mentioned this [to him],” said Inman.  “When he got home to England he wrote a letter to the owner of the winery—I’m old, in our day we wrote letters—[and said] ‘Dear sir, please forward the enclosed letter to the blonde assistant studying history of art at UCSB.’ And the letter inside said, ‘Dear question mark, it’s not easy writing to a girl with no name, forgive me if I was rude, I should have invited you to visit, and if you would like to correspond I would love to hear from you.’”

The pair would go on to become pen pals, before dating when Inman began her term abroad. It wouldn’t be until 2000, though, that Inman would rekindle her interest in winemaking, and since then, she has gone on to not only run a vineyard of her own, but also a winery as well. 

“In England I had a totally different career,” said Inman. “I ended up training as an accountant at Price Water House and then I did an MBA, but all the time kind of growing things. I had a big, huge organic garden at our home. The idea of growing things and making things from what I grow is one of my passions. We were having a family holiday back in California and [my husband and I] had this harebrained idea, ‘Why don’t we give up our careers in England and move here?’ and so we did that.”

Gaucho pride runs in the Inman family, as one of her daughters also attends UCSB. Inman has participated in “Taste of UCSB” from its inaugural event, and has not missed a year since. When Inman was unable to physically attend in 2014, a certain family member and Gaucho was able to lend a hand. 

“I had an event in Chicago on the weekend, but my daughter Meredith poured for us,” said Inman. “So the wine was still here, even if I wasn’t.”