The Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure
The garagiste movement is gathering steam. After two successful festivals in Paso Robles, Doug Minnick and Stewart McLennan took their concept of showcasing small wineries to the Santa Ynez Valley.
Focusing on wineries with annual production of less than 1,200 cases, The Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure was held February 16th at Veterans’ Memorial Hall in Solvang. And while the Paso events included a few wineries from out of the area, this event was filled with local wineries only. But, that did not detract at all from what was offered, and it really provided great examples of what the area can produce, with the following wineries participating:
BLAIR FOX CELLARS
CENTER OF EFFORT
EL REY WINES
KAENA WINE CO.
PRESS GANG CELLARS
ROARK WINE CO.
RYAN COCHRANE WINES
SEAGRAPE WINE CO.
As with any event of this size, I didn’t try to visit all the tasting tables. I’d rather take my time with a limited number of wineries and try to learn a little more about what I am tasting, emphasizing quality over quantity. Of what I tasted, these are what got me the most excited, along with a few comments (when I feel I actually have something to say):
09 Syrah – Alisos Vineyard
09 Rhone Cuvee
BLAIR FOX CELLARS
09 Syrah – Thompson Vineyard
10 Syrah – Tierra Alta Vineyard
10 Grenache – Camp 4 Vineyard
This was one of my most exciting finds of the day. Zac Wasserman has a great teacher over at Tensley, and it shows in these wines.
Larner is one of the iconic vineyards in the area. Most of the grapes are sold to other wineries, so I was very excited to find the family is now producing wine under the Larner label.
09 Red Blend
Sashi Moorman is winemaker for Stolpman, and he makes excellent wines there. He really steps it up for his own label, and I’ve been a fan for some time.
I’ve been hearing very good things about Shawn Shai Halahmy’s wines for awhile, and I was excited to finally taste them. Shai was the first table I visited, and he set the bar very high for the rest of the tasting.
There is a lot going on in the Santa Ynez Valley. And these up and coming winemakers represent the future of the area.
To keep up to date on future events highlighting these exciting small wineries, sign up for The Dirt at www.garagistefestival.com.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who puts up with him. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting tasting rooms and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, Michael had the amazing good fortune to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. At the same time, in his day job he provides outsourced controller services to companies that do not need a full-time controller. One day, he hopes to be able to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. (2013 Update: Eve and Michael announced Eve Wine 101 Consulting. Info is here: http://evewine101.com/press-releases/)