The Garagiste Wine Festival returns to its home base of Paso Robles in SLO County for the 11th time to celebrate the continued expansion of the Garagistes, with over 200 wines poured by over 50 of the Central Coast’s most exciting micro-production artisan wineries. Festivities include Friday’s Rare and Reserve Tasting at the Pavilion on the Lake in trendy Atascadero, ‘The Many Sides of Syrah’ seminar, the Grand Tasting, and the festival’s signature Keep It Rockin’ After Party. Tickets are on sale here.
Taking place November 11th and 12th, the festival which, in 2011, helped kick off global awareness of the micro production winery movement, comes at a time when limited production winemakers are dominating the wine scene in the Central Coast. Home to one in five of the state’s wineries, the Central Coast boasts over 700 small production wineries, with San Luis Obispo County leading the pack, according to Wines Vines Analytics in April, 2022.
In fact, Wines Vines Analytics reports that the number of very small and limited production wineries in the Central Coast has exploded, more than doubling (61%) to 753, since 2010, with the number of limited production wineries (under 1000 cases) having grown an astonishing 79%. The Garagiste Festival has showcased nearly 500 limited/very small production winemakers since 2011, the majority from the Central Coast.
“It is no surprise that, today, Paso’s home county, SLO, leads the limited production wine scene. Back in 2011, its rich network of artisan winemakers, hand-crafting wine almost in obscurity, was the impetus for the founding of the Garagiste Festival,” said Doug Minnick, Garagiste Festival Co-founder. “We set out to shine a light on these fantastic artisan winemakers and connect them with others like ourselves who love discovering new wines and wineries. We’re proud to have played a part in helping these wineries – and this movement – grow significantly. Eleven festivals later, we are still introducing extraordinary new wineries and winemakers to a growing and appreciative audience of wine consumers.”
Dubbed “tasting nirvana,” “strange and wondrous,” and “one not to miss” by the LA Times, the Garagiste Festival showcases under-the-radar, innovative, commercial winemakers who handcraft 1500 cases or less of wine and is renowned for its diversity of wines, renegade spirit, passionate winemakers, handcrafted wines and rules-breaking, ‘no snobs allowed’ ethos.
This year, the festival’s signature tasting seminar, kicking off events on November 12th, revisits one of the most popular grapes among the festival’s garagiste winemakers, Syrah. Moderated by festival co-founder and winemaker, Stewart McLennan, “The Many Sides of Syrah: A Deep Dive into this Classic Grape” features tastings of different interpretations of the grape from panelists and winemakers Doug Minnick (Hoi Polloi Wines and Garagiste Festival co-founder), Steve Martell (Kaleidos Winery) and Bret Urness (Levo Wine).
“Long a favorite of Garagiste Festival winemakers, Syrah has been called the ‘winemakers grape’ because of the range of styles it can make, its ability to express terroir – as well as the winemaker’s personality – and, importantly, because of the excellent wines it can produce,” said Minnick. “It is such a signature grape of Paso Robles’s artisan winemakers, it is hard to believe that, before 1970, there were barely four acres of it planted in California. Today, it is at the heart of some of the greatest wines produced in Paso Robles, and we are excited to share three distinct explorations in our seminar.”
The Garagiste Festival is the only wine festival that exclusively features high quality wines from commercial California ‘garagiste’ winemakers and, unlike other festivals, the wines are poured by the winemakers/owners themselves, offering a rare opportunity to interact with the creative forces behind the wines, while making brand new wine discoveries.
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 Paso Robles Garagiste Festival kicks off on Friday night, November 11th at 6:30 pm at the lovely Pavilion on the Lake in Atascadero, with a Rare & Reserve Tasting, featuring 50 special wines poured only at this event, as well as a wine country buffet.
Saturday’s festivities begin at 11:30am for VIP ticketholders with “The Many Sides of Syrah” seminar. Saturday’s main event, The Grand Tasting, starts at 2:00pm (1:00pm for early access ticket holders) and features over 50 winemakers pouring 200+ wines and 20+ grape varieties, as well as a silent auction benefitting The Garagiste Scholarship at CalPoly. Complimentary cheese and charcuterie will be available curated by Vivant Cheese, along with shopping from local artisan vendors The fun continues with the Keep It Rockin’ After Party from 5:30 – 8:30 pm, featuring live music and local brews. All of Saturday’s events take place at Paso Robles Event Center.
Among the over 50 winemakers pouring at The Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles are:
ALLBAER Wines*, Alma Sol Winery, Ariana Wines, Autry Cellars, Bon Niche Cellars, Boutz Cellars*, Bushong Vintage Company, Caelesta Vineyards*, Cairjn Wine Cellars*, Caliza Winery, Concur Wines, Copia Vineyards, Crush Vineyard, Cutruzzola Vineyards, Demeter Family Cellars, Diablo Paso, Dracaena Wines, Dresser Winery*, Dubost Winery, Dusty Nabor Wines, Etnyre Wines, Familia Hicks, Hayseed & Housdon, Hoyt Family Vineyards, INNATE Wines*, Kaleidos Winery, Leverage Wines, Loma Seca Vineyards, Marin’s Vineyard, MCV Wines, MEA Wines, Montagne Russe, Nenow Family Wines, Optio Vineyards*, Purple Dragon Cellars, RF Fine Wines, S&J Cellars*, Sea Shell Cellars, Seven Angels Cellars, Seven Oxen Estate, Stilson Cellars*, The Farm Winery, Torch Cellars, TW Ferm Co., Ultima Tulie, Vines on the Marycrest, Volatus Winery, Zanoli Wines, Zobeto Wines*
Info: 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.