PASO ROBLES, CALIF. (PRWEB) – The Garagiste Wine Festival, which was just named ‘Best of the Fests’ for 2019 by Fest Forums, is kicking off its 10th anniversary year with its popular Garagiste Northern Exposure event in Sonoma on February 15th, 2020. The Sonoma event offers wine lovers rare access to cutting-edge wines from over 40 micro-production, commercial wineries from Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Sierra Foothills, Lodi, Santa Cruz and more.
The Garagiste Festival premiered in 2011 and is the nation’s first and only festival to showcase the wines of micro-production commercial ‘garagiste*’ winemakers. The ‘Best of Fest’ Award from Fest Forums, the country’s leading conference for Event and Festival producers nationwide, recognized The Garagiste Festival for its innovation. Because Garagiste offers wine lovers one-of-a-kind opportunities to taste a range of each year’s most exciting handcrafted small-lot production wines, all under one roof, its four annual festivals in Sonoma, Solvang, Los Angeles and Paso Robles consistently sell out. This is the second national award for the festival which was also named the ‘Best Wine Festival in the US in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards.
“2020 is a landmark year for Garagiste, and we are so grateful to receive this prestigious award as we head into our 10th anniversary year,” said Garagiste Festival Co-founder Doug Minnick. “The Garagiste Festival is the ‘little engine that could’ in a world of bigtime events featuring major stars and corporations, and we know it is all down to the amazing winemakers who pour at our festivals and each year inject freshness, creativity and a renegade spirit into the wine establishment.”
The non-profit Garagiste Festival also supports the Garagiste Festival Scholarships at the Wine and Viticulture Department at Cal Poly University San Luis Obispo.
“Our mission over the last decade has been to shine a spotlight on small-lot winemakers, who you don’t find in grocery stores or on wine country maps, while supporting the winemakers of the future through our Garagiste Festival Scholarships,” said Garagiste Co-founder Stewart McLennan. “Our intimate and ‘no snobs’ allowed atmosphere has made the Garagiste Festivals unique and memorable, while our winemakers have expanded the horizons and palates of thousands of wine lovers. 2020 will be our best year of festivals ever. Stay tuned!”
Northern Exposure in Sonoma:
The February 15th 2020 Garagiste Festival Northern Exposure will be held at the Sonoma Veterans Building near Sonoma’s historic downtown plaza and features 40 winemakers, one-in-four of which are brand new to the festival, pouring over 100+ wines from 20+ grape varieties. Limited availability VIP Experience tickets celebrate Valentine’s weekend with a Rare and Reserve tasting featuring library, club only and reserve wines; a wine county box lunch from local fave, The Girl & the Fig; a full glass of sparkling Rosé from Garagiste Festival winemaker, Carboniste Modern Sparkling, as well as a themed treat from artisan chocolatiers Fleur Sauvage Chocolates.
Among the 40+ winemakers scheduled to pour at the Sonoma Northern Exposure Festival are:
601 Cellars, Abbot’s Passage, Aesop Wines, Ampere/Pine Mountain Vineyards, Armitage Wines, Benevolent Neglect Wines, Boonville Road Wines, Brombeere Wines, Carboniste Modern Sparkling, Carpenter Wine, Crux Winery, Dane Cellars, DeWitt Vineyard, Enriquez Estate Wines, Fallon Place Wines, Ferguson Family Wines, Fields Family Wines, Frostwatch Vineyard, Greyscale Wines, Jardesca Aperitvo, JonEVino, March Wines, Mastro Scheidt, Montagne Russe Wines, Oceano Wines, Oceans Churning, Old County Cellars, Ondule Wines, Perri Jaye Vineyards, Piezo Winery, Purple Dragon Cellars, Ricci Vineyards, Sosie Wines, Sutro Wine, T. Berkley Wines, Weatherborne Wine Corp. and Zo Wines
2020 Garagiste Festival Dates and Places:
The Garagiste Festival’s 10-year anniversary celebration will continue throughout the year with special events, signature tastings, local chefs, after parties, and rare and reserve nights.
- Feb 15 in Sonoma at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall: 126 1st Street W. Sonoma, CA
- April 17 & 18 at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall in the heart of Solvang: 1745 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA
- July 25 at the historic Glendale Civic Auditorium: 1401 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale, CA
- Nov 12 -15 – The 10th Annual Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles includes a series of special events and The Grand Tasting at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds: 2198 Riverside Ave, Paso Robles, CA
For more information and full Garagiste Festival Northern Exposure schedule details, go to: http://californiagaragistes.com/
Tickets are limited for the Sonoma festival and Garagiste Festivals always sell out. To buy tickets, go to:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/3rd-annual-garagiste-wine-festival-northern-exposure-tickets-75598187213?aff=website For breaking 10 anniversary celebration festival news and special discounts, sign-up for our free newsletter, The Dirt athttps://www.garagistefestival.com/garagiste-blog or follow us on Twitter (@GaragisteFest) or Facebook.
About The Garagiste Wine Festival
The Garagiste Wine Festival (http://www.garagistefestival.com), named Best of the Fests for 2019 by Fest Forums and the ‘Best Wine Festival in the US in 2018 in USA Today’s 10Best Readers Choice Awards, is the first and only wine festival dedicated to the undiscovered and under-recognized American artisan ‘garagiste’ producers who are making some of the best, most exciting, handcrafted small-lot production wines in the world. Founded by fellow garagistes Stewart McLennan and Douglas Minnick, the Garagiste Festivals are committed to discovering the best and most innovative limited-production winemakers and promoting and showcasing them to a broad audience of discerning wine consumers. In addition to its flagship annual festival in Paso Robles, CA, the Garagiste Festival line-up includes Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure, featuring Santa Ynez Valley garagistes; the Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure, in Los Angeles; the Garagiste Festival, Northern Exposure, in Sonoma; winemaker dinners, a newsletter, garagiste profiles and more.
In addition to being named the US’ Best Wine Festival, the Garagiste Festival was named one of the ‘Top Nine Incredible Epicurean Vacations’ in the world by ABC News, * “one of the premier wine events of the year,” by the LA Times and “Best Festival” by Sunset Magazine’s ‘Best of the West.’ The festivals are produced by Garagiste Events, a non-profit dedicated to furthering the education of future winemakers and those training for employment within the wine industry. Proceeds from the festivals support the Garagiste Festival Scholarship fund of the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo Wine and Viticulture Department.
*Garagiste (garage-east) is a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their “garages” (anything considered not a chateau), who refused to follow the “rules,” and is now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world. The Garagiste Festivals were the first to shine a light on the American garagiste winemaker in 2011.
Lusso Della Terra Cellars won first place in the People’s Choice Award at the 21st annual Winemakers’ Cookoff in Paso Robles on August 10. It was the winery’s first year participating in the Paso Robles Rotary sponsored event, which was held at the Paso Robles Event Center.
The owner and winemaker, Edward Cholakian, helped serve up Texas Beef Sliders alongside Cali Grill chefs, Marlynna and Adam Farleas. The sliders featured Texas beef, bacon, cheddar, onion straws, house-made barbecue sauce, on a toasted brioche bun, served with Cali Grill’s famous waffle fries, and was paired with Lusso Della Terra Cellars’ 2016 Barrel Select Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cholakian was proud to win the top award at the competition, which pits area winemakers in competition with each other, serving grilled masterpieces alongside their best wine in order to raise funds each year for local high school scholarships. “We were so thrilled to be apart of this amazing community event,” Cholakian said about participating. “We couldn’t have done it without our amazing staff and the staff from Cali Grill. They all worked hard to make this event unforgettable.”
The winemaker said he was also grateful to the event coordinators, who helped make their first year worthwhile. “This is an unforgettable event, we hope to continue participating in the future,” he said.
Lusso Della Terra Cellars is a boutique winery located in the Paso Robles AVA. Their small lot, specialty wines win competitions across the country and please wine connoisseurs from around the world. Their winery is located in San Miguel’s rolling hills, and they provide a luxurious experience for visitors, a space for private events, and vineyard backdrops for small, intimate weddings. Lusso Della Terra also provides full service Custom Crush to a variety of clients, and they work with winemakers from around the world, large and small.
Edward Cholakian is a Paso Robles area winemaker and has been making wine locally for over 10 years. A graduate from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Edward began his wine industry career on the accounting side of winery operations after graduation. He worked for an inspirational Italian winemaking family in the Russian River Valley that showed him the true wine industry lifestyle; he inevitably fell in love and the rest is history. Cholakian went to UC Davis and received a degree in Enology and named his winery Lusso Della Terra, Italian for luxury of the land, to honor their family.
Cali Grill is a family owned and operated restaurant and has been part of the Central Coast Community for over 40 years. Their home style Cooking is fresh and delicious, and the restaurant’s atmosphere is perfect for a business lunch, or a family dinner.
For more information on Lusso Della Terra Cellars, visit https://ldtcellars.com/.
For more information on Cali Grill, visit http://www.caligrillpaso.com/.
SONOMA, CA – WALT Wines, a leading luxury Pinot Noir producer owned by Craig and Kathryn Walt Hall, has opened a new tasting room in the Oxbow District of downtown Napa. The new location, WALT Napa Oxbow, marks the second tasting room location for the prominent, luxury wine brand led by General Manager Jeff Zappelli and Winemaker Megan Gunderson Paredes.
“Downtown Napa has an energy that ushers in a more urban experience for the new type of wine consumer,” says WALT General Manager, Jeff Zappelli. “We found an ideal Tasting Room location in the Oxbow District that is directly across the street from the Oxbow Market and CIA Copia. The location is walking distance to the Napa Riverwalk, Napa Fairgrounds, and a collective of tasting rooms, notable modern art galleries, high-end hotels and renowned restaurants. Expanding WALT from the tasting room in Sonoma to include a second location in Napa allows us to share our quality Pinots with locals, Bay Area day-trippers and tourists alike as this area is typically the first stop for visitors entering Napa Valley.”
The 1500 square foot indoor tasting room space features a three-dimensional, custom designed tasting bar comprised of an Italian-porcelain countertop, and the bar is illuminated with LED gold globes hanging above the countertop. The building was renovated with low energy lighting, and includes a series of landscape and structural upgrades to improve the energy efficiencies, beautify the property and reduce water usage. The Hall’s extensive collection of art compliments the décor and experience.
WALT Napa Oxbow has four tasting offerings for guests to experience including:
- CURRENT RELEASE TASTING, $30pp
Guests will explore five current releases including single vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines spanning 1,000 Miles of Pinot, a concept designed to educate Pinot fans with vineyard sourcing and terroir.
- PORTFOLIO TASTING, $30pp
Guests will have access to taste through all three HALL Family Wine brands including WALT Pinot Noir, HALL Cabernet Sauvignon and BACA Zinfandel wines in a tasting that highlights current releases for each varietal and background about the Hall family.
- WINE & CHOCOLATE PAIRING, $50pp
Guests are able to indulge in the decadent world of wine and chocolate through a tasting experience that explores the senses through taste and aromatics. The experience includes six Pinot Noir wines paired with Kollar Chocolates, a leading luxury chocolatier based in Yountville, CA.
- ROOT 101, $60pp
Root 101 is the signature food and wine pairing experience at WALT. This seated tasting includes six single vineyard Pinots paired with a seasonal, farm-to-table bite prepared by renowned Napa-based eatery, Carpe Diem. The experience aims to educate guests by exploring one’s palate as it relates to flavor profiles. Reservations are required.
The WALT Napa Oxbow renovation included a number of prominent, luxury consultants including:
- Architecture: Jarrod Denton, Signum Architecture
- Contractor: Frank Bourges General Contractor
- Art Curator: Virginia Shore – Shore Art Advisory
- Interior Design: Carol Padham, Padham Design
WALT produces single vineyard Pinot Noir wines from appellations stretching from as far north as the Willamette Valley in Oregon, through Anderson Valley, the Sonoma Coast, Carneros, Santa Lucia Highlands and the Sta. Rita Hills of the Santa Barbara County. WALT specializes in premier Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced from vineyards spanning 1,000 miles, a mile marking distance that coined the brand’s popular 1,000 Miles of Pinot concept.
For more information, please visit www.waltwines.com, follow on social @waltwines, or by calling 707-933-4440.
WALT: 1,000 Miles of Pinot
WALT specializes in premier Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced from the most coveted vineyards along the Pacific Coast, spanning 1,000 miles from as far north as the Willamette Valley to the Sta. Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County. WALT represents wines of a place – these special sites allow thoughtful viticulture to enable winemakers to create expressive wines that reflect the signature personality of each site. WALT farms three estate vineyards and partners with meticulous growers who aspire to share standards of quality. Owned by Kathryn Walt Hall and her husband Craig, WALT honors Kathryn’s parents, Bob and Dolores Walt, who were grape growers in Mendocino County since 1972 and nurtured Kathryn’s passion for vineyards and wine. WALT has two tasting room locations including one adjacent to the Sonoma Square in Sonoma, CA, and the second in the Oxbow District of downtown Napa, CA. Both Tasting Rooms are open to the public. For more information, please visit www.waltwines.com or by calling (707) 933-4440. @waltwines #1000milesofpinot.
Think about one of your favorite wines. What goes into your decision to make it your favorite? Is it the varietal? The region it comes from? The terroir? The year? The label? There may be multiple reasons. I that, at least for me, a big one is passion – the passion of the vintner, winemaker, grower, everyone who worked so hard to get that wine into the bottle for you.
And nothing speaks wine passion more than the Garagiste Festivals. We at Eve’s Wine 101 have a special affinity for them, having reported on the Garagistes from the beginning, including my interview with co-founder Doug Minnick before the very first event in 2011 in Paso Robles, which Karen and I also attended. Focusing on ultra-small (and then therefore ultra-rare) production wineries, the festivals have now expanded to four annual events – Paso Robles, Solvang, Sonoma and (conveniently for locals) Los Angeles.
We’ve definitely attended our share of these over the years. They’ve now had about two dozen events in total and the passion of these winemakers is clear. More so than with a large big-budget winery, the owner/winemaker typically has to handle all or most of the tasks of the winemaking process, sometimes in addition to what their day job might be.
By the way, you may have noticed the word “garagiste” being used a lot more lately; I sure have. The Garagiste Festival doesn’t own the term, it goes back to the originally somewhat derogatory French word for small winemakers. And I can’t say for sure that the increased usage of the term overall is connected to the success of the Garagiste Festivals, although I would tend to think so. After all, they were voted the best wine festival in America. So, if you want to be sure you are supporting the real deal, go to their website and sign up for their newsletters.
Karen and I attended the latest LA event, held at the Glendale Civic Auditorium. In keeping with the LA theme, the Saturday event started with a seminar presented by three LA based wineries working to bring back to LA County an industry that used to dominate the landscape in the days before prohibition and real estate development.
Hosted by Steward McLennan, one of the founders of the Garagiste Festival, the seminar presenters were Patrick Kelley of Cavaletti Vineyards, Jasper Dickson and Amy Luftig Viste of Angeleno Wine Co. and Mark and Jenny Blatty of Byron Blatty Wines. All three wineries get a significant amount of their grapes from Los Angeles County. The Blatty wines are made in the Santa Clarita Valley and Angeleno is in the process of finalizing its tasting room and winery operations in downtown Los Angeles.
Of course, it was a wine seminar, so there was wine.
Each winery poured two wines, in the following order, lightest to heaviest:
Cavaletti Vineyards –
2018 109 Mile Rose (62% Grenache, 38% Tempranillo)
2017 Grenache, Swayze Vineyard
Angeleno Wine Co. –
2017 Zanja Madre (Grenache and Tempranillo)
2017 Syrah, Alonso Family Vineyard
Byron Blatty Wines –
2017 Undertake (60% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah, 10% Merlot, 5% Syrah)
2016 Pragmatic (90% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot)
For me, the takeaway from these wines is that Los Angeles County is capable of producing a variety of styles of high quality wines. Truly something for everybody.
The winery owners all shared stories of trials and tribulations. Their individual stories varied, but they all included one common component – the challenge of teaching potential customers, retail stores and restaurants about the quality of wine coming from LA County. One might think they are fighting an uphill battle but they appear to be winning it; that takes passion! I expect the LA winery scene to continue to grow and prosper and I know of at least one cult-status winemaker who is planning to set up shop soon – more on this in a future article, hopefully.
Of course, the Garagiste Festival isn’t just about Los Angeles. The grand tasting after the seminar featured over 50 wineries from all over California, 23 of which also poured the previous evening at the Rare & Reserve kick-off party – shout out to Fired Up Chef Services for the great BBQ buffet dinner that accompanied this. More on the wines in Part 2 which will run on this site next Saturday, 7/27.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 30 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 President of MCP Financial, which provides outsourced controller services. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Don’t travel through Glendale often, and never been to the Glendale Civic Auditorium, but I’ve covered numerous Garagiste events in LA held at The Wiltern, Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club and Union Station. Traveled to Paso for the event more than once, beginning with their first fest in 2011. And very happy to see that this event, voted the “Best Wine Festival by USA Today readers, has now reached as far as Sonoma and Doug Minnick (one of the founders) said it was their 24th. There’s a reason for their growth and success. We look forward to Garagiste to catch up with small wineries that have been there from the start, and discovering new ones. Here is what we found in Glendale:
Starting with the “Kick off Party” night of rare, reserves, pre-releases, barrel samples and club member only wines that included a yummy buffet from Fired Up Chef Services (photos), the next day I had a seminar on the growing group of vintners that make their wines from LA Country grapes and then came the grand tasting (more photos). I grouped the kick off party and grand tasting wines together in the Wineries section below and, due to length, will share the seminar and tasting in a separate article on this website today.
I have noted the particular wines from either tasting that I found remarkable. If a winery is not noted it doesn’t mean anything in particular, but most likely I just missed them. Asterisks denote wineries at the LA event for the first time:
13th & Third Wines* (2016 Rhone Red), Adron Wines*, Aldina Vineyards* (2014 Cabernet Sauvignon), Alma Sol Wines, Angeleno Wine Co., Ann Albert Wines, Armitage Wines, Ascension Cellars (2015 Soul Searcher Cabernet/Syrah), Bella Luna Winery, Bevela Wines (2015 Unforeseen Alchemy Red Blend), Bodega de Edgar (2016 Nexo Syrah, 2015 Gran Riserva Tempranillo and 2016 Mis Pasos Cab/Tempranillo/Syrah blend), Brooks Note Wines* (2018 Pinot Blanc, 2017 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and 2014 GSM), Byron Blatty Wines (entire lineup with a special shout out to 2016 “Eventful” blend of Tempranillo/Petite Sirah/Merlot), Cavaletti Vineyards (2017 Alicante Bouschet barrel sample and 2017 Vigneron Reserve Syrah/Cabernet), Changing Patterns, Cholame Vineyard (2014 Estate “130” Syrah and 2016 “The Beautiful One” Petite Sirah), Cloak and Dagger Wines, Copia Vineyards (2017 “The Cure” GSM), DB Cellars* (2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Paso and 2011 Sete Barbara, Sierra Foothills), DENO Wines (2017 Arneis, 2016 and 2014 GSM, 2010 Two Bills Zin/Grenache, 2009 Paso Ridge GSM), DeWitt Vineyard* (2015 Estate Syrah and 2015 Estate Touriga), Dusty Nabor Wines (love all the wines, special shout out to their 2017 Syrah, Ballard Canyon. Also his wife Karin’s label, Bolt to Wines 2016 Roussanne and 2017 Syrah)), Enriquez Estate Wines* (2015 Muscat, 2013 “Brisa” white blend, 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir and 2013 Reserva Tempranillo), Etnyre, Ferguson Family Winery* (2016 Boomshakalaka Petite Sirah), Frostwatch Vineyard* (2015 Estate Chardonnay and 2016 Ophira Reserve Chardonnay), Gary Kramer Guitar Cellars*, Golden Star Vineyards (Everything as always, big fans of Lee and Helen Williams), Golden Triangle (2015 Cab/Syrah, Willow Creek), Gravel Pit, Greyscale Wines* (2015 Merlot, Oak Knoll Napa), Hoi Polloi Winery (everything, fan of winemakers Behlendorf and Minnick), Kendric Vineyards, Kings Carey Wines*, Kitson Wines (2015 Rafael el Fils Estate Cabernet Sauvignon), Lions Peak Wines* (2012 Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc), LXV Wines (2016 Reserve Cabernet Franc, 2017 “Crimson Jewel” Super Tuscan blend and 2016 “Secret Craving” Bordeaux blend)), Marin’s Vineyard (nice discovery: 2017 Malbec and 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, MCV Wines (2016 Petite Sirah and 2016 “1105” blend), Metrick Wines, Montagne Russe (2015 Dragon’s Back Chardonnay, 2016 Dragon’s Back Pinot Noir, 2016 Alder Springs Syrah), Ocean’s Churning* (another cool discovery: 2014 Chardonnay Los Carneros, 2016 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast and 2014 Heritage Clone 4 Los Carneros), Playground Cellars*, Powicana Farms (2013 Petite Sirah and 2015 Port), Record Family Wines, Republic of Pink, RF Fine Wines* (2015 Arbre Petite Sirah), Rhonedonnee Wines, Say When Wine* (2017 Petit Verdot, 2018 “Stipa” Rose of Mourvedre, 2017 “When” Pinot Noir and 2017 “Rasi” Pinot Noir), Torch Cellars (2018 Tannat/Syrah Rose and 2013 Illumination Red blend), Turiya Wines (Divine Force Cab/Sangio/Petite Sirah), Two Papas Wine* (everything, I’m a fan, 2018 Grenache Blanc was new), Two Shepherds (sorry to have missed this one today), Velvet Bee Wines*, Vino Vargas, Wander-Must Wines* and Zanoli Wines (2016 Syrah).
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.
PETALUMA, Calif. (PRWEB) – The judges of the 2019 North of the Gate Wine Competition have spoken, and this year’s wines debuting at the Sonoma-Marin Fair will be as complex and unique as the regions they come from.
This annual competition, now in its 19th year, has grown to represent unique, world-class wineries of Northern California, spanning from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon Border. Each year, winemakers submit their best wine to a panel of industry-leading critics and judges. The winning wines will, in turn, be showcased at the Sonoma-Marin Fair Wine Garden this June 19-23, allowing fairgoers from all over the chance to experience the best that Northern California winemaking has to offer.
The 2019 competition took a unique turn, as more obscure varietals gave way to traditional California wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay. Instead, the field blend of international varietals, which were originally planted in California, stole the show. Varietals among the Best in Class wines were grapes such as Carignane, Albarino, Barbera, Graciano, Montepulciano, Grenache and beyond. This refreshing success brings new life to the competition and opens opportunities for winemakers to expand the palates of their consumers, giving them an opportunity to taste something they might not have grabbed off the shelf themselves.
Known as the “Queen of Zin,” winemaker Carol Shelton was awarded this year’s Winemaker of the Fair. Shelton’s wines swept the show, winning multiple awards across categories. From Best of Class, Best of Show, and Double Gold awards, it was clear that Shelton’s passion and craft in winemaking in the North Bay showed up to play this year. The Carol Shelton Wines 2016 Oat Valley Carignane took both Best of Show and Best of Show Red, while her Late Harvest 2017 Zinfandel Black Magic won Best of Show Dessert Wine.
Imagery Estates showcased their 2018 Albarino, which took Best of Show White across the competition. Winemaker Jamie Benziger carries with her a legacy of Sonoma winemaking from Benziger Estates, though it’s clear that she has made her mark on Imagery Estates with her own style and talent.
Idle Hour Winery took home the Best of Show Sparkling Wine. Winemaker, Anna Marie Dos Remedios, incredible talent impressed this year’s judges with her beautifully crafted Sparkling Blanc de Blanc.
Competition judge and professional wine writer Bill McNabb noted the trend of more unusual grapes being planted and flourishing at the hands of talented women winemakers. “The Albarino that just won Best White is a very unusual grape that normally does not win,” says McNabb. “It is refreshing to see these grapes win.”
This bodes well for Northern California winemakers who are looking to entice their audience to get outside their comfort zone. The vintages presented in the competition are indicative of another spectacular year in California winemaking, despite challenges from the fires of 2017 that potentially threatened some of this year’s submissions. In terms of balance, the wines presented were holding their own beyond expectation. “This year’s wines are less acidic than years prior. The wines this year are deeper and have more earthy notes,” noted competition judge Yvonne Hurson. For a complete list of award-winning wines, please visit http://www.sonoma-marinfair.org/portfolio-item/wine/#.
The incredible wines were not the only thing to be celebrated. In an industry historically dominated by men, female judges, winemakers, and even the North of the Gate Wine Competition Director, Valery Uhl, carry distinct representation across the competition. There was no shortage of Women In Wine at the North of The Gate competition this year.
The winning wines will be displayed at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair in the Wine Garden this June 19th-23, 2019. Fair-goers can taste and mingle with the winemakers, as each wine who won their category are featured in a display for all 5 days of the Fair. A separate ticket is required to visit the Wine Garden and will be available for purchase at the gate the day of and in advance online at Sonoma-marinfair.org.
Mark your calendars for a summer to remember during “Eight Decades of Fun” at the Sonoma-Marin Fair, June 19-23, 2019. With new competitions and contests, FREE concerts, unlimited carnival rides, and delicious fair food you will want to come all 5 fun-filled days. Enjoy heart-warming entertainment during the World’s Ugliest Dog® Contest, the thrill of Sprint Car Racing, and the joy of connecting with our local agricultural community. For details, visit sonoma-marinfair.org or call (707) 283-3247. Be the first to know about all of the fun by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Elevating Zinfandel was a tasting event I attended, once again put on by WineLa.com, in which the guest could not only sample an array of California “Zin” (the common abbreviation), but by doing so elevate the senses as only one can that attends a single varietal tasting.
For wine 101ers I’ve found one of the best way to educate the palate is to either taste through a flight or more of the same variety, or in tastings organized by entities such as WineLA to taste similar wines, like their (now past) Burgundy vs. Pinot Noir on 5/28. The taster then has an opportunity to learn and then discern the differences in terroir (the common term denoting where the wine was made, so as to include weather, soil, terrain, etc.) as their palate adjusts.
Though host Ian Blackburn may have chosen the term “elevate” as he had chosen some of the finest expressions of Zin, the lesson is still learned:
WineLA has teamed up with some of the worlds best Zinfandel Producers to bring you “Elevating Zinfandel”! An event geared on showcasing the “Crème de la crème” of the Zinfandel community in one fabulous location. With beautiful breads and snacks provided by La Brea Bakery Cafe, you will have the chance to meet with the wine producers as well as purchase some of these exclusive wines.
For me in this tasting, though I bow to the wealth of experience tasting Zin that my Contributing Editor Michael Perlis has had as he is the true Zin Fan (as his email, MichaelTheZinFan@aol.com, suggests) and knew many of the winemakers Blackburn rallied for the event, the subtle differences I could pick out (dark fruit, earth, mouthfeel and spice) helped me select my favorites in bold below.
Bedrock (most of these wines, all blends, started with at least 40% Zin.)
Evangelho Vineyard Heritage Wine 2014
Bedrock Vineyards Heritage Wine 2014
Nervo Ranch Heritage Wine 2014
Old Vine Zinfandel 2014
Beekeeper (Ian Blackburn’s own wine made alongside winemaker Clay Mauritson who was also in attendance pouring his own label.)
Zinfandel, Madrone Spring Vineyard, Rockpile 2013
Zinfandel, Montecillo Vineyard, Sonoma Valley 2014
Robert Biale Vineyards (I’ve seen this label frequently during my staff lunches…brought by Michael Perlis)
Black Chicken Zinfandel Napa Valley 2014
Founding Farmers Zinfandel Napa Valley 2014
Grande Vineyard Zinfandel Napa Valley 2013
Old Kraft Vineyard Zinfandel St. Helena 2013
Zinfandel, Napa Valley 2014
Mickey’s Block Zinfandel, Napa Valley 2014
Zinfandel Rosé 2015 (a crowd fave, and a great palate refresher for me.)
Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel-St Helena, Napa Valley 2013
Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel-St Helena, Napa Valley 2012
Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel-St Helena, Napa Valley 2011
Hendry Blocks 7 & 22 Zinfandel
Hendry Block 28 Zinfandel
Mike & Molly Zinfandel
Jeff Cohn Cellars
Zinfandel, Shake Ridge Vineyard 2013
Zinfandel, St. Peter’s Church 2013
Zinfandel, Hayne Vineyard 2013
Zinfandel, Sweetwater Springs 2012
Martinelli (Another Perlis fave and was often covered for Eve’s Wine 101 by contributor Rick Fraga during his tenure with the winery.)
Giuseppe & Luisa Zinfandel 2014
Lolita Ranch, Russian River Valley, Zinfandel 2012
Vellutini Ranch Zinfandel 2012
Rockpile “Rockpile Ridge Vineyard” Zinfandel 2014
Rockpile “Cemetery Vineyard” Zinfandel 2014
Quivira (wine creek)
Black Boar Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2013
Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2013
Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2013
Geyserville Zinfandel Blend, Alexander Valley 2014
Zinfandel, Dusi Ranch, Paso Robles 2014
Zinfandel Blend, Lytton Springs, Dry Creek Valley 2013
East Bench Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2014
Seghesio (A Wine Spectator previous designate of wine – a Zin – of the year.)
Cortina Zinfandel 2013
Old Vine Zinfandel 2013
Rockpile Zinfandel 2013
Turley (Not usual to find Turley “cult” wines at an event, or the lovely Director of Sales and Marketing Christina Turley pouring them, this was a real treat for me that I thoroughly enjoyed. And yet another wine that Perlis introduced me to years ago.)
Juvenile Zinfandel, California 2014
Kirschenmann Vineyard Zinfandel, Lodi 2014
Dusi Vineyard Zinfandel, Paso Robles 2014
Rattlesnake Ridge Zinfandel, Howell Mountain 2014
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com
Glen Ellen, CA – Laurel Glen Vineyard, is pleased to announce it will host a very special tasting during the third annual Signature Sonoma Valley vintage retrospective, during the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance’s flagship weekend event series. The iconic Sonoma winery will host the tasting at its eponymous Sonoma Mountain estate vineyard on Saturday, May 18, 2019 (from 2-4:30pm).
The tasting will bring together wine aficionados and collectors for an extremely rare showcase of Laurel Glen vintages across four decades. Current winemaker Randall Watkins will be joined by the estate’s founding winemaker, Patrick Campbell, as well as Proprietor and Managing Partner Bettina Sichel and winegrower Phil Coturri to provide ‘behind the vine’ perspectives. This special event will be moderated by Esther Mobley, wine critic and journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle, who will provide insight and perspective on the nuances of each vintage.
“We could not be more thrilled to host this year’s retrospective tasting,” says Sichel. “We are especially honored that Esther Mobley has accepted our invitation to moderate, and look forward to an illuminating discussion. We recently tasted through the 15 vintages we’ve selected to pour and were impressed with how well they showed. I cannot wait to share these rare wines with a new audience at Signature Sonoma on May 18th!”
The retrospective will commence with Laurel Glen’s debut 1981 vintage, and include a curated selection of 15 vintages spanning four decades that demonstrate the winery’s consistent depth, elegance and focus. The winery’s signature sophisticated style has never wavered since it joined the ranks of first generation “cult” Cabernets from California in the 1980s, and – thanks to the ongoing policy of holding back a portion of cases upon release – Laurel Glen has become known for its deep library of wines from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s; many of which are featured on some of America’s most prestigious restaurant wine lists, including French Laundry in the Napa Valley, Mastro’s Steakhouse in Houston and Gotham Bar & Grill in New York City.
Though tickets for the Signature Sonoma Valley retrospective are nearly sold out, Laurel Glen will also offer a special library flight the weekend of May 17-19 in the estate’s Glen Ellen tasting room. The Cabernet Sauvignon vintages offered in the flight will evoke the spirit of the retrospective and include the 1986, 1999 Reserve, 2006, 2009, 2012 Lot 44. Cost will be $75 per person and guests should plan to reserve at least 48 hours in advance.
Laurel Glen wines will also be featured in the Legends: Collector’s Dinner at 6:30pm on May 18th, the capstone event of Signature Sonoma Valley, which celebrates the heritage vineyards of the region. Tickets can be purchased here.
Signature Sonoma Valley is an exclusive, four-day immersion into the acclaimed wines, historic vineyards and welcoming community of Sonoma Valley. Tickets for all events are now on sale and available at SonomaValleyWine.com/Signature-Sonoma-Valley. Seating is limited and all events will sell out, so early purchase is strongly recommended. For more information, please call 707.935.0803 or visit SonomaValleyWine.com.
“Signature Sonoma Valley shapes how wine collectors view Sonoma Valley as a wine region, and we could not be more thrilled to showcase over three decades of Laurel Glen vintages in the capstone retrospective tasting,” said Maureen Cottingham, Executive Director of the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance. “Our greatest hope is that guests will leave Signature Sonoma Valley with a deeper connection to our vineyards and an appreciation for the caliber of wines coming out of Sonoma Valley, and Laurel Glen’s impressive track record more than supports that message.”
About Laurel Glen Vineyard
Laurel Glen Vineyard wines have a proven track record for longevity and grace. They are among the most sought-after examples of classic California Cabernet Sauvignon, and can thus offer a true study in how the variety can perform from a great vineyard site.
Originally planted to mixed red varietals by German immigrants at the end of the 19th century, Laurel Glen vineyard was replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon in 1968 on the eve of a modern proliferation of vineyards in California. Today, the 14-acre estate is farmed organically and planted entirely to Cabernet Sauvignon, and in particular the Laurel Glen clone of Cabernet Sauvignon, certified as a unique clone by the University of California at Davis.
In 2011, Bettina Sichel, a veteran of the California wine industry, became the steward of Laurel Glen Vineyard. Among other quality oriented improvements, she has overseen the vineyard’s transition to CCOF organic certification in 2014.
About the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance and Foundation
The Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance (SVVGA) is a non-profit trade organization serving more than 500 members who share a mission to promote awareness of Sonoma Valley’s grapes, wine, and history as the birthplace of the California wine industry. Sonoma Valley comprises six of the 17 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) of Sonoma County: Bennett Valley, Los Carneros, Moon Mountain District, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Mountain, and Sonoma Valley. The Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Foundation (SVVGF) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that has raised more than $25,000,000 through Sonoma Wine Country Weekend and supports youth and children for future success, preserving our environment, and improving health and welfare of our local communities. For more information on the SVVGA and SVVGF, please visit www.SonomaValleyWine.com.
PASO ROBLES, Calif. (PRWEB) – The Garagiste Wine Festival, which was named America’s Best Wine Festival by USA Today in 2018, returns to Sonoma with 40 micro-production winemakers from Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lodi, Sierra Foothills, and more, on April 13th. The internationally renowned festival showcases innovative winemakers who handcraft under 1,500 cases of wine and who, in most cases, don’t have tasting rooms, offering a one-of-a-kind opportunity to taste a range of cutting-edge wine discoveries, with limited attendees, all under one roof.
The non-profit event will be held at the Sonoma Veterans Building near Sonoma’s historic downtown plaza and includes a tasting seminar on the new West Sonoma Coast AVA, featuring Sonoma winemakers Andy Peay from Peay Vineyards and Carroll Kemp from Alma Fria Wines. Tickets are on sale at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2nd-annual-garagiste-festival-northern-exposure-tickets-52724183452
“We know that wine lovers can tire of over-crowded, over-priced festivals that offer supermarket wines masquerading as ‘boutique’ offerings. This is why The Garagiste Festival is dedicated to bringing these fantastic, hard-to-find winemakers (and it is only the winemakers themselves who pour at Garagiste) to our audience in a setting where they can share their stories with attendees across the table. There’s really no other event like it,” said Garagiste Festival Co-founder Doug Minnick. “More than 90% of the wineries do not have tasting rooms, and can’t be found on “wine country” maps, so this is a unique opportunity to discover hidden treasures. Quality, not quantity, is our mantra and we love the uncrowded interaction that our Sonoma event offers – an opportunity for both fun and appreciation far from the usual madding festival crowd!”
Dubbed “tasting nirvana”, ‘strange and wondrous’, and “one not to miss” by the LA Times, the Garagiste Festivals are known for high quality wines, first-time and ‘soon-to-break-out’ discoveries, diverse grape varieties, a ‘no snobs allowed’ policy and a renegade and fun-loving spirit. The non-profit Garagiste Festivals are the only festivals in the US dedicated to micro-production winemakers and have introduced hundreds of outstanding artisan winemakers to thousands of passionate wine consumers, members of the trade and media, raising the profiles of many of the winemakers nationally for the first time, and raising thousands of dollars for the education of future winemakers.
“We are so pleased to be back in the heart of Sonoma wine country for the second year. While we love every one of our venues, there is something completely different and special about Sonoma, and we were overwhelmed by the positive reception we received last year,” said Garagiste Festival Co-founder Stewart McLennan. “We have an extraordinary line-up of winemakers you may have never heard of — but who you will fall in love with. These winemakers take their craft and their terroir very seriously, and we look forward to exploring this with a deep dive into the treasures of the West Sonoma Coast AVA in our tasting seminar, which kicks off the festival.”
McLennan, who hosts the popular The Garagiste Show on KRUSH 92.5FM, moderates this year’s tasting seminar: “What Defines an AVA? An Exploration of the New ‘West Sonoma Coast’ Appellation and Why the Distinction Matters,” which kicks off the festival. Attendees will learn (and taste) what makes the ‘West Sonoma Coast’ AVA special (and distinct from the wider Sonoma Coast), and why it was necessary for them to pursue this separation. With Andy Peay from Peay Vineyards and Carroll Kemp from Alma Fria Wines. The seminar is available as part of the VIP ALL-DAY TICKET, which also includes a Wine Country Box Lunch – prepared by local favorite The Girl and The Fig – and early access to the Grand Tasting.
Saturday continues with the main event, The Grand Tasting from 2-5pm showcasing 40 winemakers
pouring 150+ wines and 15+ unique varietals. All tickets include unlimited tastes, cheese (courtesy of Cabot Cheese) & charcuterie, gourmet food samples and a souvenir Stolzle crystal wine glass.
For full Garagiste Festival: Northern Exposure 2019 schedule details, go to http://californiagaragistes.com/
Tickets are very limited for the Sonoma festival and Garagiste Festivals always sell out. To buy tickets, go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2nd-annual-garagiste-festival-northern-exposure-tickets-52724183452. For breaking festival news and special discounts, sign-up for our free newsletter, The Dirt at http://garagistefestival.com/sign-up/ or follow us on Twitter (@GaragisteFest) or Facebook.
Among the 40 winemakers already scheduled to pour are:
Adron Wines, Alma Fria, Benevolent Neglect Wines, Betwixt Wines, Bluxome Winery, Boonville Road Wines, Calstar Cellars, Camlow Cellars, Chenoweth Vineyards, Cobden Wini Wines, Crux Winery, Cutruzzola Vineyards, DB Cellars, DeWitt Vineyard, Fallon Place Wines, Fields Family Wines, Gondak Cellars, Gordenker Wines, Greyscale Wines, Kendric Vineyards, Kitson Wines, March Wines, Mastro Scheidt, Merisi Wines, Montagne Russe, Mountain Tides Wine Co., Nowell-Smith Wines, Old County Cellars, Olivera Wines, People’s Wine Revolution, Perri Jaye Vineyards, Powicana Farm, Sosie Wines, St. Romedius, Tom Mackey Cellars, Urban Legend Cellars, Wander Must Wine, Weatherborne Wine Co. and Witching Stick Wines.
Sponsors include: Bank of Marin, ETS, AEB, Laffort, Digital Dogma, Hanover Insurance, Farm Credit, mWEBB Communications, Glenn Burdette, G3, WIVI, House Copper
For sponsorship info, email info(at)garagistefestival(dot)com.
About The Garagiste Wine Festival
The Garagiste Wine Festival (http://www.garagistefestival.com), named the ‘Best Wine Festival in the US’ in 2018 in USA Today’s 10Best Readers Choice Awards, is the first and only wine festival dedicated to the undiscovered and under-recognized American artisan ‘garagiste’ producers who are making some of the best, most exciting, handcrafted small-lot production wines in the world. Founded by fellow garagistes Stewart McLennan and Douglas Minnick, the Garagiste Festivals are committed to discovering the best and most innovative limited-production winemakers and promoting and showcasing them to a broad audience of discerning wine consumers. In addition to its flagship annual festival in Paso Robles, CA, the Garagiste Festival line-up includes Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure, featuring Santa Ynez Valley garagistes; the Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure, in Los Angeles; the Garagiste Festival, Northern Exposure, in Sonoma; winemaker dinners, a newsletter, garagiste profiles and more.
In addition to being named the US’ Best Wine Festival, the Garagiste Festival was named one of the ‘Top Nine Incredible Epicurean Vacations’ in the world by ABC News, “one of the premier wine events of the year,” by the LA Times and “Best Festival” by Sunset Magazine’s ‘Best of the West.’ The festivals are produced by Garagiste Events, a non-profit dedicated to furthering the education of future winemakers and those training for employment within the wine industry. Proceeds from the festivals support the Garagiste Festival Scholarship fund of the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo Wine and Viticulture Department.
*The Garagiste Wine Festival was named America’s Best Wine Festival by USA Today in 2018.
**Garagistes (garage-east) is a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their “garages” (anything considered not a chateau), who refused to follow the “rules,” and is now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world. The Garagiste Festivals were the first to shine a light on the American garagiste winemaker in 2011.