The Garagiste Festival offers wine enthusiasts endless adventures in wine discovery.
As their website describes it… “Garagiste, a place for the underground, the different, and the cutting edge of small production winemaking with no rules.” The Garagiste Festivals, now at three per year, embody this definition and showcase the artisan winemakers of California, all with production under 1500 cases of ultra-premium, hard-to-find wines. Indeed, many of the wineries have no tasting room and their production is so small you won’t find their wines on store shelves. So, the only way to explore and experience these wines and the artisans that create them, is at one of the 3 annual festivals.
The first Garagiste Festival was held in November of 2011 in Paso Robles as a way to showcase the garagiste movement which had clearly taken a hold in that wine producing region. The event also served to raise funds for the Cal Poly Wine & Viticulture Program, which provides future winemakers with an education in all aspects of the wine business from the vineyard to the table. The Festival continues to support this program and its young winemakers of the future. With the movement growing throughout the California wine producing regions, and interest and awareness growing on the part of the wine consumer, the annual event schedule has grown to accommodate 3 festivals – adding festivals held in the Santa Ynez wine growing region of Santa Barbara County and in Los Angeles.
Traditionally, the Santa Ynez Garagiste Festival, named “Southern Exposure” is held in the spring, the Los Angeles Garagiste Festival, “Urban Exposure” in the summer, and the Paso Robles festival in the fall. So with just one more event left for 2015, now’s the time to save the date for November 7th. Actually, the November Festival has been expanded to include events over a 3-day period, beginning with a “5th Anniversary Dinner” at the Carlton Hotel in nearby Atascadero on Thursday, November 5th. A “winemaker mixer” follows on Friday, with a series of events scheduled for Saturday, November 7th, including seminars, the Grand Tasting and an after-party.
With all the wine tasting events held every year, the Garagiste Festivals are my favorite, providing a fun and unique opportunity to taste wine while meeting and chatting with the actual winemaker. Hearing from them personally, as opposed to distributors or reps, takes the tasting experience to a much higher, memorable and more meaningful level.
While I have made friends of many of these winemakers over the years and enjoy visiting with them and tasting their new releases, I also always look forward to meeting the “new guys” or first-timers to the festival. Dozens of varietals and blends means there is something for every palette. From Albarino to Viognier, this is one tasting event you won’t want to miss.
Alta Colina Vineyards – Paso Robles – Consulting winemaker: Jeff Cohn Cases per vintage: 1500
- 2014 Grenache Blanc
- 2011 GSM
Archium Cellars – Santa Barbara – Winemakers: Zack Jarosz & Ian Sergy Cases per vintage: 300
- 2013 “Haven” Grenache
- 2013 Halo Viognier
- 2013 Gossamer Wings White Rhone Blend
Artisan Uprising – Paso Robles – Winemakers: William & David Vondrasek Cases per vintage:275
- 2012 Merlot
- 2012 Malbec
Diablo Paso – Paso Robles – Winemaker: Enrique Torres Cases per vintage: 1000
- 2014 Albarino – Edna Valley
- 2013 Tempranillo
Larner Winery – Santa Barbara – Winemaker: Michael Larner Cases per vintage: 800
- 2014 Malvasia Bianca
- 2010 Elemental GSM
MCV Wines – Paso Robles – Winemaker: Matt Villard Cases per vintage: 500
- 2014 Viognier
- 2009 Adome (65% Syrah/35% Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 2009 Grenache
Stanger Vineyards – Paso Robles – Winemaker: JP French Cases per vintage: 1000
- 2008 Syrah, Library Reserve
- 2010 Master (55% Cabernet Sauvignon/36% Syrah/9% Tempranillo)
Tercero Wines – Santa Barbara – Winemaker: Larry Schaffer Cases per vintage: 1000
- 2010 The Climb (Syrah/Petite Sirah)
The Farm Winery – Paso Robles – Winemaker: Santiago Achaval Cases per vintage: 650
- 2011 Touchy-Felly (Grenache/Syrah)
- 2011 The Big Game (Cab/Petit Verdot/Syrah)
Vines on the Marycrest – Paso Robles – Winemaker: Victor Abascal Cases per vintage: 1500
- 2014 Summertime Rosé
- 2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
The Garagiste Festival – Paso Robles, is scheduled for November 5-7, 2015. The fall is a beautiful, and popular, time to visit wine country. Plan your visit early by booking your lodging and ordering your Festival tickets as soon as possible. For more information on The Garagiste Festival events, participating wineries, and to purchase tickets, visit The Garagiste Festival website.
Wine is an adventure, with every bottle offering a new experience. Thank you to the passionate and talented garagiste winemakers for your perseverance, dedication and for sharing your art. Thank you also to the outstanding team at The Garagiste Festival for bringing all these fine winemakers together under one roof where we can meet and celebrate them and their wines. Happy 5th Anniversary!
I’LL DRINK TO THAT!