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!
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:
Bodegas M Wines
Casa Dumetz Wines
Cloak & Dagger Wines
Ground Effect Wine
J Dusi Wines
Jacob Toft Wines
JK Wine Company
La Filice Winery
Les Deux Chats
Paso Port Wine Company
Per Cazo Cellars
Red Zeppelin Winery
Rendarrio Vineyards / Town Crier Wines
St. Hilaire Winery
Thomas Alexander Winery
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…
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:
La Migliore Bakery
Nature’s Touch Nursery and Harvest
Mortar and Pestle
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.