It seems like only yesterday that I sat down with Doug Minnick, one of the founding organizers of The Garagiste Festival, to discuss their upcoming inaugural event in Paso Robles. It was an exciting time, with the Garagiste Festival being unique in focusing solely on small [maximum 1,200 cases per year] wineries, most without tasting rooms or any kind of funds available for marketing the products of the winemakers’ passion for wine.
That was almost four years ago, and the festival that started it all is getting ready to celebrate its 5th annual event in Paso Robles this fall. The Solvang event that started soon after the original event is going strong as well. About the only thing that has changed is that the maximum case production has gone up to 1,500 cases per year. But, for those who somehow found Paso Robles and Solvang too far to drive, last year the Garagistes came to Los Angeles. And they’re getting ready to do it again!
So, it seemed like a good time to reconnect with Doug and talk about what’s new with the Garagistes and why the upcoming Los Angeles festival might be very well be the best one yet.
The Paso and Solvang events have built reputations as two of the premier California wine festivals. The Paso Robles venue attracts wineries mainly [although not solely] from the surrounding area, as does the Solvang fest. But the Los Angeles version, known as Urban Exposure, brings in wineries from all over California. Sure, there will be more than ample Central Coast representation. But there will also be wineries coming in from the Napa, Sonoma, Monterey County and Sierra Foothill winegrowing regions.
Doug pointed out that unlike many events that focus on certain types of grapes or geographic regions, the Garagiste festivals provide the “widest range of grape varieties and winemaking styles”. The requirement that the wineries be small [which is what Garagiste is all about] helps to ensure that not only are the people involved hugely passionate about what they are doing, but the actual winemakers will be there pouring for you and telling you all about the fruits of their labors, establishing a personal connection that enhances the entire experience. And since there is such a depth and breadth of wines being poured, this would be a great place for wine loving Eve’s Wine 101 readers to bring their friends who might be just getting started on their wine journey to experience the incredible variety and discover what their own preferences might be.
This year’s festival is at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. A local landmark, the setting will provide a unique environment to showcase these unique wines. Along with food provided by Artisanal LA, this venue, known for its rock and roll shows, will give us some rock and roll winemakers this time around. And Doug wanted me to be sure to mention that, while there are several parking lots in the area, this would also be a great time to try out the train, as the Purple Line station is right across the street from the Wiltern.
Doug and his partners are proud of the fact that they have continued since inception the Garagiste Festival tradition of donating to the Cal Poly Wine & Viticulture Program. And the plan is to convert this from a donation to a scholarship established for deserving students looking to enter the wine business – up and coming Garagistes, as it were.
Not ones to rest on their laurels, Doug and founding partner Stewart McLennan have a few more tricks up their sleeves. Not only are they going commercial with their own individual winery projects [look for both of their wines at future Garagiste festivals] but Doug says he thinks they may have the “bandwidth for one more annual festival” to go along with the Paso Robles, Solvang and Los Angeles events. So stay tuned!
As of press time, tickets to Urban Exposure are still available. But, don’t wait until they sell out. This is truly a unique event, presenting many wineries that are not typically open to the public, giving attendees a great opportunity to taste wines from all over California that they would probably never get the chance to taste otherwise. All in an amazing setting. Hope to see you there! [Be sure to sign up on the Garagiste website for their newsletter – the best way to get updates and special offers.]
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 encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck 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. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com