Artisan Winemakers Shine at This Weekend’s Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles

This weekend, over 50 artisan winemakers from Paso Robles will be pouring at the Garagiste Wine Festival’s Grand Tasting at the Paso Robles Event Center – and 20 from outside the Central Coast  (Sonoma, Napa, Monterey and Santa Barbara) will pour at Friday night’s Opening Round Tasting at the Carlton Hotel in Atascadero - many of them for the very first time.   

Here are profiles of just five of this year’s Garagiste Festival’s first-timers.

Artisan Uprising

Specializing in ultra-premium wines grown in Paso Robles, Artisan Uprising was created by winemakers David Vondrasek and his brother William, after years of making wine solely for their family. “We quickly found ourselves making more wine than the family could drink,” says David. The brothers learned winemaking from (and were inspired by) their grandfather who made wine every year. “Our grapes are sourced from some of the best growers for high-end wines, our methods are slightly unconventional, but the science backs it up. This is handcrafted wine two people can make.”


Originally from Hermosa Beach, Dennis Sharpe planted DENO’s estate vineyard, Alto Pomar, in the Templeton Hills in 1993, as “the dream of a frustrated farmer.” He first started making wine from estate fruit in 2008 and makes 350 cases per vintage from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Zinfandel.  Alto Pomar is at over 1,300 feet in elevation and produces grapes with “a common thread of spice, brightness, and balanced maturity,” say Sharpe. 

Diablo Paso Wines

Enrique Torres made his first vintage in 2012. His Spanish heritage gives him a strong connection with Tempranillo, which is his favorite varietal, but he sources other Spanish varietals from Paso Robles vineyards. Torres says Paso Robles is similar to the central part of Spain with hot days and cold nights. As for the label, Enrique says that Diablo Paso describes the soul and depth of his wines.

Irie Wines

Justin Murphy started Irie Wines with three barrels in 2006. Murphy sources his Zinfandel from La Vista Vineyard on the west side of Paso Robles and his Petite Syrah from Solana Vineyard off Hog Canyon Road. The name “Irie” says Murphy is about the Rastafarian roots of having no worries  “But before my brand, Irie was the name given to my right-hand man and best working buddy, my Australian Shepherd.”

Kale Wines

Visiting Paso from the Napa Valley, Kale Wines’ first vintage was in 2008. Winemaker and owner Kale Anderson makes about 750 cases a year of Rhone inspired wines. According to Anderson, who grew up in Sonoma County surrounded by vineyards and friends in the wine industry, it was an ‘82 Mouton that first inspired him to become a winemaker.

Stolo Family Vineyards & Winery

Mario Stolo Bennetti’s Stolo Family Vineyards is the only Estate winery, tasting room, and vineyard in Cambria and made its first vintage in 2004. They currently make 1,000 cases per vintage. Bennetti loves their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir because ‘they are so expressive of our vineyard. The Coastal influence on them is so lovely. It makes me smile every time I have a glass.”

To meet these winemakers in person, join us at the 4th annual Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles. For tickets and more info on this weekend’s festivities, go to


By Melanie Webber