Michael Perlis Discovers: Paso Garagiste Festival

The day was finally here! Ever since we released one of the first stories about the Garagiste Festival scheduled for November 12th at Windfall Farms in Paso Robles, I’d been waiting excitedly for the event. No more sneak peeks, no more winemaker interviews, it was time for the real thing!

Staff Writer Michael Perlis

For those of you who somehow missed all the hype, the Garagiste Festival was designed to showcase small artisan wineries that produce less than 1200 cases per year. The term garagiste was originally used in France by the established Chateaux to denigrate small wineries, some who made wine in their garages. Now, the term can be looked at as somewhat of a badge of honor, as these small producers in California are making outstanding wines.

Per the program, the final list of participating wineries:
Aaron Wines
Alta Colina
Ambyth Estate
Bodegas M Wines
Brochelle Vineyards
Caliza Winery
Carlson Wines
Casa Dumetz Wines
Cayucos Cellars
Cloak & Dagger Wines
Domaine Degher
Edmond August
Grizzly Republic
Ground Effect Wine
Hammersky Vineyards
Indigene Cellars
J Dusi Wines
Jacob Toft Wines
Jade Moon
Jalama Wines
JK Wine Company
Kaleidos Winery
Kinero Cellars
La Filice Winery
Les Deux Chats
Nicora Wine
Paso Port Wine Company
Per Cazo Cellars
Poalillo Vineyards
Ranchero Cellars
Rangeland Wines
Red Zeppelin Winery
Rendarrio Vineyards / Town Crier Wines
St. Hilaire Winery
Stanger Vineyards
Storm Wines
Tercero Wines
Thomas Alexander Winery
Vin Alegre
Vines on the Marycrest
Westburg Cellars / Turtlerock


I count 45.

We were unable to make it to the morning seminars, but as we drove to the property and entered the gates, we realized the venue was every bit as beautiful and impressive as promised.

As usual, I made a tactical error at the event. I tend to spend time catching up with old friends first, before trying new wines. So, I spent time visiting with the following individuals and tasting their delicious wines:
Sonja Magdevski of Casa Dumetz
Janell Dusi of J Dusi Wines
Patty and Chris Connolly of Les Deux Chats
Stillman Brown of Red Zeppelin Winery
J.P. French of Stanger Vineyards
Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines
Victor Abascal of Vines on the Marycrest

Although Larry Schaffer of Tercero, bless his heart, quickly sent me on my way, telling me I needed to try new wines.

And try new wines I did. The event was being held in the barn, with the tasting stations set up in the horse stalls. So, I just popped in and out of stalls as the crowds ebbed and flowed. Still, I barely made a dent in the wines being poured. Of those I did taste, quality was excellent. But, my two picks of the day for new [to me] wineries were…

Aaron Wines
Winemaker Aaron Jackson makes only Petite Sirah and he makes it exceedingly well. With a motto of “go big or go home”, his wines definitely deliver. Aaron is based in Cayucos, but there is no tasting room so check out the website.

I know winemaker Sashi Moorman best as winemaker for Stolpman Vineyards, but as co-owner and winemaker of Piedrasassi he is crafting some awesome Syrahs. The winery, located in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, does have a tasting room, so check them out!

Kudos to the great food vendors as well:
Cass Catering
La Migliore Bakery
Nature’s Touch Nursery and Harvest
Mortar and Pestle
Limerock Orchards
Happy Acre Goat Farm

It was nice to see a lot of peeps up from our neck of the woods. Some of the familiar faces:
Carey Babcock and Mike Ortiz
Gloria and Larry Stahly
Barbara Moran and DiMaggio Washington [The Cellar Wine Bar and Restaurant] www.thecellarwbr.com
Denise [The Goddess of Wine] Lowe www.goddessofvino.blogspot.com
Diane and Jim Ghilardi
Joel Fisher [LA Wine Fest]
Shawn Burgert [Wandering Wino] www.wandering-wino.com
Jeannie and Chris Carpenter
Xochitl Maiman [I’ll Drink to That] http://illdrinktothat.info/

Sorry if I missed anyone.

I recommend you sign up for The Dirt newsletter at www.pasogaragiste.com, as rumor has it that there will be more going on than just an annual festival.

Finally, the last page of the program had quotes from many of the winemakers. I’d like to share with you the one from Amy Butler of Ranchero Cellars: “You’d better REALLY like making wine because it’s fucking hard.” [Let’s see if I can get this past Eve.] The hard work definitely pays off.

Michael Perlis provides outsourced controller services to businesses that do not need a full-time controller. He balances this with his interest in wine: reading and writing about it and, of course, drinking it. He is still trying to figure out how to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at mcpfinancial@aol.com or michaelthezinfan@aol.com.

4 thoughts on “Michael Perlis Discovers: Paso Garagiste Festival

  1. Great seeing you there Michael! Much appreciate the mention.

    Such a fantastic event with so many great wines. So many I missed. This one goes on the short list of wine events.


  2. I was as excited as you that the day had finally come for the Garagiste! As I’ve mentioned before, when we drive to the Creston area, we are always in awe of the expansive property of Windfall Farms. Adding a great new event like The Garagiste, perfect weather and a gorgeous sunset to the occasion, (did you see my Facebook photo of it?), it couldn’t have been any more perfect.

    It was great to be able to access the small winemakers like this. We had a lot of great new wines. One we were particularly impressed with was Thomas Alexander. I hope you had the chance to try his blends. They were wonderful. In fact, everyone surrounding the table at the time we were tasting were saying Thomas’ wines were some of the best they’d had. Thomas Pitchon and Helene drew us in by their color-coordinated table and clothing and his debonaire demeanor was quite impressive. Thomas used to be an associate winemaker for Rosenblum. The four of us in my party made the consensus that these were our favorite wines of the event (however, Jacob Toft was out of wine by the time we got to his table, and he’s always a favorite!)

    We will definitely be back for future Garagiste events. They must be thrilled that it went so well and without a hitch. Very well-planned and executed.

    Eve – you missed a great one!

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