The Renegades Return: 64 High-Quality, Small-Lot Winemakers to Pour at Third Annual Garagiste Festival

Garagiste Logo- 2013-300dpiby Melanie Webber

Hard to believe it was just a little over two years ago that
The Garagiste
was a mere gleam in the eyes of co-founders Stewart McLennan and
Doug Minnick. Back then, few even knew what a garagiste was (a term originally
used in Bordeaux to denigrate renegade small-lot winemakers, sometimes working
in their “garages” - who refused to follow the “rules,” and then went on to be
recognized as making some of the best wine in the world) -- let alone how to
pronounce it (garag-east or gar-uh-zhē-stuh), nor that America
had its own burgeoning population of stunning small lot producers also making
some of the best wine in the world – nor that the heart of this renegade group
was right here in Paso Robles.

And, while it may be an exaggeration to say that now the
world knows -- Wikipedia certainly does - “Paso Robles represents the core of
the garagiste movement,” - and so do thousands of passionate wine consumers
from California and across the country, who trek to Paso and the Central Coast
not just for its fair, its beautiful oaks or its larger wine producers, but
also for its over 125 garagiste winemakers and the annual Garagiste Festival,
which is on its way to becoming a Paso institution after only two years…but
being garagistes, we keep it fresh, renegade and not anything like an
institution – and this year during Garagiste Festival Week November 7 – 10th,
there are 64 winemakers, all of whom handcraft under 1,200 cases of wine per
year, set to help us stir it up and bring the ‘good stuff’ front and center!

Glasses 11 12-300dpiIn fact, demand has already inspired us to add a new Friday
tasting event, The Opening Round, with 15 winemakers from around
California. Even more intimate than our Grand Tasting, it offers attendees a
more leisurely opportunity to get their wine juices going and leads right into
our super-popular carry over from last year the “Shiners, Secrets and Samples”
Winemaker Mixer… the world’s only public event where consumers can taste this
much garagiste ‘secret stash’ all in one place! Our multi-winemaker dinner
returns on Thursday night in Paso, as do our tasting seminars on Saturday at
Windfall Farms, this year covering the Good, the Bad and the Ugly … well mostly
the good, but they do start off with some bad and ugly with “What's Wrong With
This Picture? Educate Your Palate About the Most Common Wine Flaws,” which
teaches consumers how to identify (and understand the cause of) wine flaws such
as TCA, Oxidization, Bret, and more. Moving on to what we consider the
undisputed good is “Garagiste Outlaws: Breaking the Old World Blending Rules
(in France they'll throw you in jail for these blends!)” which offers tastings
from blending experts who will explain why many Old World blending rules are
just made to be broken.

Barn-cropped-300dpiAnd, of course, there is the main event, the Grand Tasting
on Saturday at Windfall
with 49 fabulous Central Coast garagistes, followed by our signature
rock and roll after party where both winemakers and attendees drink a lot of
beer while talking about making a lot of great wine -- and eating hand-tossed,
grill-fired, artisan pizza from Paso locals Gypsy Flame. The festival winds
down on Sunday with a symposium for serious aspiring and beginning winemakers,
The Chemistry of Wine: Practices and Pitfalls,” which we hope will
encourage a whole new population of garagistes!  As the LA Times said,
"this is one not to miss" and tickets sell out fast: For tickets and
information go to

Garagiste 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 are donated to the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Program.

As part of The Garagiste Festival team, Melanie Webber
spearheads Public Relations. Her public relations agency, mWEBB Communications,
Inc., won a 2011 American Business Award for PR/Communications Campaign of the
Year. A lover of all things Central Coast, especially the wines, she just received
her WSET Level 3 certification