What's in a name? That's an interesting question for the Junior League of Bakersfield when it comes to its annual Wine Fest. With the added moniker of Bakersfield Uncorked, this year's event, Nov. 17 at the fairgrounds, will offer more than a fine wine.
"We're changing the event up a bit from what it's been in the past, focusing more on local restaurants and food and wine pairing," said event organizer Mandy Herp. "Because there are so many wine events in Bakersfield these days, we wanted to do something that would differentiate our event from other events."
Guests will enjoy their wine paired with foods from local restaurants such as Cafe Med, Steak and Grape and Frugatti's. The three businesses will pair dishes with a variety of wines, including those from Grey Wolf Cellars, Rombauer Vineyards and MadoroM.
If you're hungry for more, head to the Taste of Bakersfield corner, which will highlight other local businesses. Foods include meats and cheeses from Trader Joe's, cupcakes from Sweet Surrender and offerings from Wool Growers, Sandrini's, Mama Tosca's and Luigi's.
Herp said the Junior League was happy with contributing businesses, especially the well-known Italian restaurant on 19th Street.
"Luigi's is a big get for us because they don't normally participate in anything. So that's great. Luigi's is sponsoring the VIP tables, providing Italian wine and appetizers."
If you don't already have a ticket to a VIP table, you're out of luck, as all 38 tables (up from 30 last year) are spoken for. General admission tickets ($75) are still available at H. Walker's Clothing as well as with some Junior League members.
The event will feature a "sports zone," which Herp hopes will broadcast the USC/UCLA game (although another Pac 12 game might be on that evening if the popular match happens that afternoon). Advanced Beverage Co. will offer at least five beers that will be paired with dishes from Moo Creamery.
Once everyone is feeling good, it's auction time. The silent auction will feature about 85 items, including sports packages from the Dodgers, Bakersfield Blaze, Bakersfield Condors and Garces Memorial High School; and a plethora of baskets and gift cards, most notably a $1,000 Invisalign voucher from Gianquinto Ortho Arts.
Dining and destinations drive the live auction offerings. Up for grabs are a guided pig hunt from Tejon Ranch, dinner for eight in the wine room at Cafe Med, dinner for six with Monsignor Craig Harrison at St. Francis Church, lunch for six in Washington, D.C., with Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a weekend at a house in Montecito, a week at a time-share in Hawaii and other trips.
Herp said the goal is to raise $102,000, and she is optimistic that the changes to the event will encourage future success.
"Next year I'm sure this is going to be a big plus, moving away from just wine to the food and wine pairings. Give them an opportunity to showcase what they have."