It was a Friday night at The Cellar. This guy was leaving, and stopped by our table to say goodnight to DiMaggio Washington, owner of The Cellar, who had joined us for dinner.
After he left, something about him made me ask DiMaggio who he was. Okay, maybe it was something about me – I’m very nosy.
DiMaggio told me the guy’s name was Doug Minnick, and that he was one of the organizers of a new wine festival in Paso Robles.
Great, I thought, another wine festival. Just what the world needs.
Then, DiMaggio showed me Doug’s card, which was for The Paso Garagiste Festival.
Now I know enough about wine [barely] to know that the term garagiste in France originally referred to the smaller non-chateau wineries. It was used as a derogatory term at the time, but now it refers to small artisan producers, exactly my kind of wineries.
I checked out the website for the festival, and got a lot of useful information. You can check it out at www.pasogaragiste.com.
The website has a couple of great videos on it, explaining what a garagiste is, as well as showing off the beautiful venue for the festival, Windfall Farms.
What is a Garagiste? – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LrNPQDEcWo
The Garagiste Festival at Windfall Farms – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0ATehZTIL8&feature=related
The festival is scheduled to be held on November 12 at, as I mentioned above, Windfall Farms in Paso Robles. Some of my favorite wineries are going to be there, such as J. Dusi and Zeppelin.
I knew I needed to connect up with Doug, so I sent him an email on Saturday morning. It turned out he was up in the Santa Clarita Valley for a few days. We exchanged a few emails and made tentative plans to get together.
First, I suggested meeting Saturday afternoon at the Pulchella tasting room in downtown Newhall. Unfortunately, I ended up not being able to make it, but Doug went and had a great time.
Then, we agreed to meet on Sunday, at the anniversary celebration of The Cellar, but it was Doug’s turn to have to reschedule.
We finally decided that we could get together Monday afternoon, but where? We decided on meeting at Wine 661 in Valencia. This time, neither of us canceled!
Doug selected a bottle of Cass Flying Nymph [a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache from Paso Robles, of course] and we sat and enjoyed the wine and talked about one of our mutual interests – Paso Robles wine. [Full disclosure – Doug paid for the wine, not me.]
As I said, the website pasogaragiste.com has a lot of information, so I won’t bother repeating it here. But, I do want to comment on a few things that came through in my conversation with Doug.
First of all, the passion that Doug and his partners in this venture [Stewart McLennan and Dan Andersen] have about Paso Robles wine is evident. And they recognize the uniqueness of the area, which I have seen as well. Nowhere that I know of is the spirit of winery cooperation and community evident as the way it is in Paso Robles.
And this festival is not going to be typical. Attendees will not only be able to taste wines that are rarely available elsewhere, but there will also be seminars, an after party, and an ability to purchase the wines that are being poured, both to order current releases and to receive future bottlings. A lot of these wines are rarely available outside of the winery. And, as many of the participants don’t have tasting rooms, this is a unique opportunity.
Doug also pointed out that the venue “is Alex Trebeks’ fantastic former equestrian ranch” and is “really an amazing place”. [Do any of you remember when Alex Trebek owned Creston Vineyards?] And, for those of you that think Paso is too far for a short trip, Doug wanted me to remind you that it is “just 2 1/2 hours north” of Santa Clarita.
The website is a work in progress, so check back, as well as join their mailing list. And, I’ll be sure to let you know of any updates as I learn about them.
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.