Wednesday, Apr 03 2013 04:56 PM

Rain or shine, it's wine time

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    From left, Anne and Randy Beemer and Maryanne Keathley enjoy a libation at the Red & White Wine & Food Festival in 2012.

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BY STEFANI DIAS Californian assistant lifestyles editor sdias@bakersfield.com

Come April 12, you can paint the town and all that jazz when Bakersfield College tunes up for its sixth Red & White Wine & Food Festival.

"In terms of a change, we're incorporating jazz into the festival. That's a first," said Mike Stepanovich, executive director of the Bakersfield College Foundation, which has put on the fundraiser since 2008. "We're always looking for things to make it better, to make it more enjoyable for people. We want to bring people to Bakersfield College to reconnect to see what's going on here. ... We're giving it a little different twist. People can relax with some good music."

Related Info

Red & White Wine & Food Festival

When: Tasting 5 to 7 p.m., jazz performance 7 p.m. April 12

Where: Bakersfield College, 1801 Panorama Drive

Admission: $50 advance; $60 at the gate

Information/tickets: 395-4800 or bcfoundation.net

Attempts to incorporate music last year were dampened -- literally -- by bad weather.

"Last year, it was a very cold rain. We were forced to move indoors."

Consulting the Farmers' Almanac, which accurately predicted rain the last two years, Stepanovich said fair weather should prevail for the 400 to 500 guests expected to attend.

"We're hoping and crossing our fingers that we don't get rained on again. We're reverting back to outdoors. The first three years we had that."

Before enjoying the BC Jazz Ensemble's performance under the direction of Kris Tiner at 7 p.m., guests can take part in the event's namesake pursuits: food and wine.

Six tents will host wine stations on each side with a variety of offerings. At least 54 wineries have signed on to participate.

Participating wineries include Croad Vineyards, Graveyard, First Crush, La Belle, Souza Family Vineyard, Troublemaker, Justin and Fresno State Winery, the first commercial winery operated by a university. The tasting also will go global for the second year in a row with the addition of wines from around the world.

"It's principally a California-focused tasting, but we have several international offerings this year -- Argentina, Spain, France, Italy, South Africa and Germany."

Also going a bit international are the food offerings. Guided by instructors and chefs Pat Coyle and Suzanne Davis, the college's culinary arts students will set up six hors d'oeuvres stations: "an imaginative selection" of party food, fruit and cheese, Italian, Mexican, pastries and a surprise station planned by the advanced students.

"I rarely get a chance to go over and try the appetizers myself," Stepanovich said. "Someone brings a plate over and says, 'Here, eat.

"People rave over them (appetizers). Suzanne Davis and Pat Coyle are top-notch. They do a great job with the students."

Supporting the students drives the food and wine festival. Proceeds will be split three ways -- for scholarships for the culinary and jazz programs and to the Renegade Fund, a general fund directing support where it's needed most on campus.

With an outlook as sunny as next Friday's forecast, Stepanovich praised the festival as a great local gathering.

"I just think it's one of Bakersfield's premier events. It brings people out to support the college, brings people back to campus, allows people to learn about wine in a relaxed and enjoyable setting and hear some terrific music.

"You can come and have a good time. Life doesn't get much better."

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