Alumni Gauchos gathered on the lawn behind Davidson Library for a sold-out, fourth annual “Taste of UCSB Wine and Beer Garden,” the premiere event of UCSB’s All Gaucho Reunion weekend.
This is the first year that the UCSB Alumni Association has combined the Gaucho Gallop and the Kids’ Mile, Gaucho Kids Festival, and Wine and Beer Garden, according to Leslie Brodbeck, the director of the Gaucho Kids Festival.
The event debuted a selection of brewers and vintners whose founders and business associates are UCSB alumni. These included (but are not limited to) Figueroa Mountain, Beachwood, M. Special, Hollister, Municipal Winemakers, and Draughtsmen. The festival grounds included bounce houses and games, interactive science workshops, a portable live reef and sea-life installation, and a DJ.
According to Brodbeck, the Gaucho Kids Festival hosts events for kids to debut the passion of students and inspire children’s curiosity for science, technology, and the arts.
“Today we had the reef from MSI [Marine Science Institute], we had Earth Science showing fossils, we had Chemical Engineering and Physics Circus doing science experiments; things that the kids are hands-on with,” she told The Bottom Line.
A waist-high yellow fence enclosed the beer and wine garden, ensuring that no overly curious kid tippy-toed their way into an M.I.P.
For $30, attendees received a glass for unlimited tasting of local breweries, an enticing offer for those of the “U-Can-Study-Buzzed” legacy. Brewers and vintners, many of whom are UCSB alumni themselves, appeared genuinely enthusiastic about being part of the event. Jaime Dietenhofer, owner of Figueroa Mountain Brewery, said that “we come year after year, and we’re happy to do it.”
All three men at the Fig Mountain booth were UCSB alums; more alumni worked at their restaurant and brewery location in the Funk Zone in downtown Santa Barbara. Their booth debuted some new brews, such as the Painted Cave Guava IPA and the Red Rock.
“I came up with the names by looking at the hiking trails of the surrounding area,” Dietenhofer said.
Some alumni came from further distances for the event. “I am here to support my fellow gauchos,” said Julian Shrago, the owner and brewmaster of Long Beach-based Beachwood Brewery. “I am an alum, and both my business partners are alums, so we are happy to do this event every year.”
While describing his joy of brewing, Shrago also shared that his brew pub in Long Beach has a new beer each week. The brew pub offers new tastes and one-off beers.
“Having that creative freedom is what keeps us going,” he said.
Paige Porter, a graduate from the psychology department, said that she came back to UCSB to speak to graduating seniors at the Psychology and Brain Science’s ENGAGE Panel and meet up with old friends for a weekend of fun.
“It was great sharing experiences and giving advice to seniors who are stressed out about graduating,” she said in an interview. Porter now does administrative work in the medical field for University of California, San Francisco.
Clay Wilson, singer and guitarist for rock band The Six Sevens, returned to UCSB from the Bay Area to play a few shows and enjoy some nostalgia at Taste with long-time friend and housemate Hawkin Ritter. Ritter was excited to share that “[their] whole house, [six guys], from last year somehow all got together to move into a place in the city.”
They joked that on a day like today, there was one of two places to be: you could either “be downtown at the EOS Barbecue with all the Greek Life, or be here, drinkin’ some affordable beers.”