sheila sobchik

Adding a twist to Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” motto, the Vines to Wines club’s “Learn by Tasting” philosophy certainly entices students to know more.

“(We’re) developing an educational and fun club for students to broaden their wine knowledge,” Vines to Wines President Brian Simas said.

The 13-year-old club was developed by wine and viticulture students to help build a connection with the local wine industry as well as educate wine connoisseurs-to-be. With roughly 110 members and a small quarterly fee of only $25, the Vines to Wines club is a great way for students from all majors to bond over a common love: Wine.

Meetings take place every other Tuesday featuring barbecues, guest speakers and slideshows about upcoming events. The club also has a night dubbed “Fab Friday” in which they devote an hour-long seminar to a particular wine, like Zinfandels, champagne or sparkling wine.

It wasn’t until last quarter that the club was allowed to have wine tasting at the meetings due to a no-alcohol policy on campus. Now, after negotiations and strict rules in place, students 21 and over are allowed to taste wines.

Club member Travis Bullard has been part of Vines to Wines for the past two years. Bullard, an agricultural business junior, likes the idea of being able to meet people already in the industry and those soon-to-be in the industry.

“I like being able to meet everyone who you know will be in the industry in 20 years,” Bullard said.

The club takes annual trips. They visit wineries in Paso Robles/Edna Valley, Monterey/Santa Cruz, Napa/Sonoma and the Santa Barbara County.

“Typically we will visit 10 to 12 wineries over three days and get VIP treatment at most of them including tastings, tours and lunches. We just got back from a four-day Napa/Sonoma trip that was a blast,” Simas said.

The club primarily funds the trips with students only having to pay a small portion and it covers food, hotel rooms, buses and activities.

With Open House approaching, Vines to Wines is gearing up for an eventful weekend. On Saturday, April 29, they will have a booth set up by Campus Market from 8 a.m. to noon where there will be barbecued food for sale, wine tasting and even sumo wrestling.

Also, Saturday will mark the fourth annual Cal Poly Wine Festival located at Santa Margarita Ranch starting at 1 p.m. Brittany Malone, a wine and viticulture senior and the Vines to Wines event coordinator, said that the club provides most of the volunteers and committee members for the festival and all proceeds from the event go to the wine and viticulture program at Cal Poly.

“The Wine and Viticulture major is only a year old so the festival is a way of giving back to the program,” Malone said.

The festival called “An Afternoon Amidst the Oaks” will feature 73 wineries throughout California as well as food booths from 15 local restaurants. There will be an art show, silent auctions and the band Joose will perform.

Tickets are on sale now. Prices are $30 for students and $50 for the public. There will also be a shuttle service provided to get people to and from Santa Margarita. For more information go to

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