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SEPTEMBER, 2011: All About the California Garagiste Festival

garagiste_logo_HR_no#28D040.jpgWhy I haven't written in awhile is easy to explain. I've been working hard, behind-the-scenes on an upcoming, brand-new event called The Garagiste Festival, which is happening this November in one of my all-time favorite places - Paso Robles, CA. Is it a bit crazy to try to hold, yet another wine event in an already over-saturated festival circuit? Perhaps, but this is one that intrigued me and eventually demanded my devotion...and free time. Festival founders Doug Minnick, Stewart McClennan and Dan Erland Anderson are not only wine lovers, but have caught the winemaking bug and created this event as a place where first-timers and old hands could share their knowledge and passion.

The Garagiste Movement may have started in France, but it's alive and growing in California. Much of what I love about wine is meeting the people behind the bottles. Many of our garagistes got their start or are still working for larger wineries. Many still have full-time jobs in the real world and are living their dream on the side. It's exhausting just to think about. Everyone has to start somewhere and for these up-and-coming winemakers the hard work is beginning to pay off.

This inaugural festival is bringing 40 of these small production wineries (all making under 1200 cases) from all over the Central Coast, not just Paso Robles together in one place. This will be the first public tasting for some of the winemakers. Many may be off the beaten track and sometimes off the map altogether, but that's all part of the adventure of making new friends and discovering that one bottle of wine all your friends need to know about.

Some of the wineries participating in the event you've heard me talking about like Alta Colina, Caliza Winery, Tercero Wines, Vines on the Marycrest, Bodegas M Winery, J Dusi, JK Wine Company, Ranchero Cellars and Kinero Cellars. While they all hold a place in my cellar, I am looking forward to seeing what some of the other participants, like Rangeland Wines, Per Cazo Cellars, AmByth Estate, Thomas Alexander Winery, Aaron Wines, Les Deux Chats, Storm Wines, Ground Effect Wine Co., Nicora Wines, Casa Dumetz, PiedraSassi and Jalama Wines bring to the tasting table.

Unlike many other wine events this one does not feature a singular region or grape. Vineyards from Santa Barbara to Monterey will be represented. While I consider myself a Rhone Ranger, I'm excited about the variety of the wines that will be on hand, everything from Albarino to Zinfandal. Sure, there will be plenty of Cabernet, Syrah and Pinot Noir, but also Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Sangiovese, Barbera, Mourvedre, Grenache, Roussanne, Viognier, Grenache Blanc...need I say more? Plus, we're offering the opportunity to purchase what you love. No more festival frustration as you find wines you want to buy, but can't. At the end of the day, you'll be able to order your favorites and have them sent directly to you, from whatever wineries you want. These are small lot, limited-access wines that will be gone before you know it.


The location is just icing on the cake. We are thrilled to call Windfall Farms our home. Believe me, you've never tasted wine in such a unique and lovely place. While this used to be a working horse farm, this event is no cattle call where you're stuck in a giant, loud warehouse or overcrowded hotel ballroom. Tickets are limited (thanks to the county), so there'll be no waiting in long lines or reaching over people to get a pour. There will be plenty of elbow room and intimacy as the winemakers show their wares in the renovated, spacious, brick-lined horse stalls.

To see what the location is all about, click here.

If you want to learn more about how wine is made, there are two morning seminars that will help give you the information you need to get started making your own wine from local winemakers who have turned their initial few barrels into a successful, full-time business. If you are just into drinking wine, like me, Cypher Winery will be on hand to demonstrate exactly how different oak treatments influence one single wine. Once you taste these wines side by side you will really understand and be blown away.

And finally, as the old winemaker motto goes: "you need a lot of beer to make great wine." After all that wine tasting, there's a chance to continue the conversation at an after party, sponsored by Firestone Brewery, featuring a concert by Australian country singer Stephen Rowe. This is going to be a full day of wine education and fun. I'm really thrilled to be a part of it and hope you'll consider joining us.

November 12th: Seminars from 10am-12:30pm, Consumer Tasting from 2-5pm and After Party from 6-9pm. Early Bird Pricing thru October 10th: $45 Consumer Tasting / $85 VIP All Access / $20 After Party

>>CLICK HERE for more information.

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