The line weaved outside the usually empty sidewalk in front of the UCSB Recreation Center as UCSB alumni, students and community members were awaiting entrance to the Rec Center Courtyard for the Second Annual Taste of UCSB.
Samples from alumni- and Gaucho-related breweries, wineries and restaurateurs were enjoyed by more than 500 attendees in the grassy courtyard. Chilled white wine was in short supply on this sunny afternoon, but spirits were high as old and young alike enjoyed samplings from Alma Rosa Winery, Cline Cellars, DeRose Winery, Groth Vineyards, Los Cincos Locos, Mercy Vineyards, Municipal Winemakers, Oreana Winery, Rosati Family Winery, Sanford Winery, Whitcraft Winery and others.
Vintner George Primbs, M.D., of Los Cincos Locos said he thought he was the oldest vintner there as he graduated in 1951.
Guests swayed to the beat of the band Life at Big Bry’s (name derived from the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club) who played hits from the 1980s. Band members included Gauchos Joey Osso (class of 1995, business economics and accounting) and Jesse Catalan (class of 1995, Spanish), along with local Steve Puailoa and Bob Dolin.
The Taste of UCSB is part of the weekend’s UCSB Alumni Association’s Sixth Annual All Gaucho Reunion. Title sponsors were Village Properties Realtors of Santa Barbara and Montecito Bank & Trust.
The evening before the Taste of UCSB, the Alumni Association honored numerous alumni for their achievements both at UCSB and globally. Honorees included Yolanda Garcia, ‘70, M.Ed. ’72, Ph.D. ’98, Peter Bouckaert ’93, Walter Mead and vintner Richard Sanford, who poured his wines at the Taste of UCSB the following day.
Gaucho mascot “Ole” was there to provide guests with photo ops. In addition, fine arts alum and photographer Jennifer Pennington, class of 1986, hosted a cute photo booth adorned with surf boards and decorated beach cruiser for on-site guest photographs (in exchange for email addresses).
Totally appropriate was the crowd-pleasing performance by Iaorana te Otea, the UCSB student group that celebrates the culture of the Polynesian islands. The music and dance by eight lovely barefoot coeds in grass skirts was a great visual and musical addition to the event.
Food purveyors included an assortment of loyal UCSB alumni-owned businesses, including Are You Nuts?! Donuts, Country Catering Company, Enterprise Fish Company, Luna Olivo (local olive oil company), Sugar Beets Restaurant & Bar of Oxnard, UCSB Cantina, Bagel Cafe of Isla Vista and Woodstock’s Pizza of Isla Vista.
“The Taste of UCSB was born out of the immensely successful Alumni Vintners Tasting and now is in its second year of running,” said Lani Ballonoff (class of 2007, economics), chair of Taste of UCSB and owner of LBPS Events. “Proceeds benefit the UCSB Alumni Association Student Scholarship Fund, which provides aid to deserving students.”
“This was our biggest Taste yet with 525 people attending,” said John Lofthus (class of 2000, 2010), associate director of the UCSB Alumni Association. “We hosted the event as part of the All Gaucho Reunion. The purpose is to bring back to UCSB as many alumni as possible to reconnect and to stay engaged with their alma mater. It is critical to have the support of our alumni.
“The silent auction raised $9,000 for the student scholarship fund, which is awarded through UCSB financial education to help undergrad and grad students.”
Lofthus is all Gaucho himself. He holds two degrees from UCSB, married a Gaucho, and has worked for the Alumni Association for 15 years.
“I started working at the Alumni Vacation Camp in 1997,” he said. “It is the best job I ever had and I haven’t left since!”
UCSB was founded on July 1, 1944. UCSB now has 173,000 alumni, and 20,000 belong to the Alumni Association. The mission of the UCSB Alumni Association is to serve and involve UCSB alumni and students; to enlist alumni talents in the preservation and promotion of UCSB’s image, tradition, pride and status as a world-class university.