The Garagiste Festival – Southern Exposure Grand Tasting expanded to two days in 2014 – so much wine – so little time!
The original Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles has now become almost legendary in its fourth year – a festival dedicated to showcasing high-quality, cutting-edge, small-production commercial wineries that produce fewer than 1,500 cases a year. Last year the festival launched its “Southern Exposure” Festival focusing on the artisan winemakers of the Santa Ynez Valley. This year their there were so many wineries that the event added a second day with each day featuring different wineries. As I said, “so much wine – so little time!”
In fact, I was only able to attend the first day of the festival, but I did jump start the weekend (March 28-30), by attending the Garagiste “Kick-Off” Party, a pizza and wine pairing at Cecco Ristorante in Solvang. Eleven “garagiste” wineries, including 2 that would not be participating in the main event, poured while Cecco tray passed piping hot pizzas and other yummy appetizers. The patio was packed with wine enthusiasts all anxious to learn more about these small wineries, most with no tasting rooms, making this a rare opportunity to taste these gems. While it’s always so good to meet and speak with the owners/winemakers, I especially enjoyed meeting Deanna King of De Su Propria Cosecha and Zach and Ian from Archium Cellars.
Archium Cellars – 2011 “Dissident” Rhone Blend (82% Syrah/18% Grenache)
De Su Propria Cosecha – 2011 Roussanne, Stolpman Vineyard and 2009 La Cosecha Central Coast Red
Vinemark Cellars – 2009 Reserve Primitivo
Press Gang Cellars – 2010 Syrah, Harrison Clarke Vineyard
Calilove Wines – 2013 “Gold Rush” Chardonnay, Presqu’ile Vineyard – Barrel Sample
The following morning, after a hearty breakfast at our hotel, we headed over to the Veterans’ Memorial Hall for a couple hours of tasting. Of the 30 wineries pouring and the countless wines of all varieties, these were some of the standouts for me from wineries I was not already familiar with:
Archium Cellars – 2013 Rosé of Grenache
Carucci Wines – 2012 Viognier, White Hawk Vineyard
Cholame Vineyard – 2012 Grenache Blanc “Summer Shade”
Crawford Family Wines – 2012 Pinot Noir – Zotovitch Vineyard
Dubost Ranch – 2009 Reserva (70% Syrah/30% Tempranillo)
Liquid Farm – 2013 Mourvedre Rosé, Vogelzang Vineyard and 2012 Chardonnay – “White Hill” – Sta. Rita Hills
Moretti Wine Co. – 2013 Vermentino
Ryan Cochrane Wines – 2012 Pinot Noir – Solomon Hills Vineyard
Shai Cellars and Tercero Wines were also there, and while I’m quite familiar with their wines, it’s always good to taste the latest offerings from Shawn Halahmy and Larry Schaffer, respectively. Two favs are the 2009 Shai Cellars Adome (65% Syrah/35% Cabernet Sauvignon) and Tercero’s 2009 Cuvee Christie.
A large selection of grape varietals were represented including genache, syrah, viognier, cabernet sauvignon, primitivo, roussanne, gewurztraminer, chardonnay, pinot noir, zinfandel, tempranillo, sauvignon blanc, negrette, chenin blanc, riesling, mourvedre, semillon, vermentino, merlot, petite verdot, petite sirah and malbec.
I love the wines from this region – the pinot’s are earthy, but with fabulous fruit, the chardonnay’s have complexity and balance, the rhones and bordeaux varietals are complex without being too heavy, and with good fruit and elegant mouthfeels. All in all, this was a wonderful tasting and not only do I look forward to next year’s event, but I’m anxious to track down some of my favorites from this event and add them to my cellar!
While the details for the 2014 Paso Robles Garagiste Festival have not been announced yet, stay up to date with all the latest news on their website.