Cocktail Corner: The Garagiste Festival

Courtesy Garagiste Festival

Courtesy Garagiste Festival

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg  |

GARAGISTES (gar-uh-zhē-stuh)—which comes from a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their garages, who refused to follow the “rules” of traditional winemaking—may not be a well-known word around here YET, but it will certainly be flying off the tongues of the lucky folks who gather for the second annual “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure” in Solvang March 29-30.

The garagiste movement is responsible for making some of the best wine in the world, much of which will be showcased later this month when 56 of Santa Ynez Valley’s and Santa Barbara County’s high-quality, limited-production commercial garagiste winemakers gather at the beautiful, Mission-style Veterans Memorial Hall, 1745 Mission Dr., Solvang.

Last year’s one-day event sold out and, in response to both consumer and winemaker demand, the nonprofit festival (which benefits Cal Poly’s wine and viticulture program) has expanded to two days full of tasting seminars, high-quality wines, first-time and “soon-to-break-out” discoveries, personal winemaker interaction and diverse varietals.

Courtesy Garagiste FestivalWith almost 50% of the winemakers pouring at the event for the first time—13 pouring their first vintage, and 80% lacking  tasting rooms—this festival offers a truly one-time-only opportunity for guests to discover some of the hottest, yet-to-be-discovered wines.

Winemakers pouring on Saturday, March 29 from 2–5 p.m. include: Archium Cellars*, Ascension Cellars*, Carucci Wines*, Casa Dumetz, Cholame Vineyard, Cordon Wines, Crawford Family Wines*, Dubost Ranch*, DV8 Cellars*, Graef Wines*, Ground Effect Wines, Harrison Clarke Wines, Kaena Wine Company, Kessler-Haak Winery, Kita Wines*, Larner Winery, Luminesce, Moretti Wine Co.*, Pence Ranch, Press Gang Cellars, Roark Wine Co., Ryan Cochrane Wines, Seagrape Wine Company, Shai Cellars, Tercero Wines, Transcendence Wines, Turiya* and Vinemark Cellars*.

Winemakers pouring on Sunday, March 30 from 1–4 p.m. include a-non-ah-mus, Baehner-Fournier, Bradley Family Winery*, Brophy Clark Cellars*, C. Nagy Wines, Calilove Winery*, Cloak & Dagger, Clos Des Amis*, Dascomb Cellars*, Desperada*, Dilecta, Fontes & Phillips*, Frequency Wines, Gioia Wines*, Guyomar Wine Cellars*, J. Wilkes Wines, La Fenetre Wines, LaZarre Wines, Montemar Winery*, Nicora Wines, ONX Wines, Plan B Cellars*, Refugio Ranch, Scott Cellars*, Solminer Wine*, STANGER Vineyards, Weatherborne Wine Co.* and Zinke Wine Company*.

(Wines designated with an asterisk * are new to the festival.)

In addition to the grand tastings, each day will feature one of the festival’s popular (and limited seating) morning tasting seminars. On Saturday from 11 a.m.– noon is Rhones Rule: The Wines of Ballard Canyon, focused on Santa Ynez Valley’s brand new AVA, Ballard Canyon, and featuring Michael Larner of Larner Vineyards, Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines and Mikael Sigouin of Kaena Wine Company. Sunday from 11 a.m.– noon the seminar is A Pinot Noir Primer from the Roots Up, featuring Joshua Klapper from La Fenetre Wines, Adam LaZarre from LaZarre Wines and Clarissa Nagy from C. Nagy Wines.

The nonprofit Garagiste Festivals showcase high-quality, cutting-edge, small-production commercial wineries that produce fewer than 1,500 cases a year. “One of the most fulfilling things about Garagiste Festival events is seeing important new winemakers not only get discovered for the first time but, in many instances, explode out of the box,” says Garagiste Festival co-founder Doug Minnick.

“With Southern Exposure, Garagiste Events is proud to continue to serve as both starting gate and incubator for some of the Central Coast’s (and the world’s) most important small-lot winemakers and to offer consumers the unique joy of connecting with artisans whose passion and maverick spirit pulse through the terroir’ of their wines,” says Garagiste Festival co-founder Stewart McLennan.  “And all at an event that is heavy on fun and light on pretension—which is perhaps the thing we are most proud of. As our attendees will attest, Garagiste events are a blast!”

Tickets are now on sale at http://californiagaragistes.com/buy-tickets/.

Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns. Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on March 7, 2014.

Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Cocktail Corner: Notable News

Blue Tavern's Pisco Sour features Porton Pisco, angostura bitters and cinnamon tincture. (courtesy photo)

Blue Tavern’s Pisco Sour features Porton Pisco, angostura bitters and cinnamon tincture. (courtesy photo)

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg |

Winemaker Doug Margerum‘s first release from his new brand, BARDEN came out earlier this month. Margerum says, “The BARDEN collaboration is the pairing of my dream to make the ultimate expression of Santa Barbara County grapes and winemaker Jason Barrette’s acute craftsmanship and skill. BARDEN showcases a fusion between Jason’s southern hemisphere and worldwide winemaking experience, our access to the top vineyards and the philosophy and knowledge we both share in what makes a wine world-class. The BARDEN trade name is my middle name and its English meaning is ‘Lives near the boar’s den’ … thusly we have adorned the label with an image of the wild boar that is pervasive in the vineyards of Santa Barbara County.” The wine, which retails for $87,  received 92-93 points from Tanzer and can be ordered by emailing tastingroom@margerumwines.com. |

Acclaimed mixologist Deysi Alvarez at the hot new restaurant Blue Tavern (119 State St., 805/845-0989) utilizes a unique blend of cultures as inspiration for her cocktail menu, which features classic drinks made with housemade tinctures and small-batch spirits. The Margarita features Espolon tequila, house orange reduction, fresh lime Juice, agave nectar, and Gusano salt; the Mojito de Martinique showcases Clement Rhum VSOP and clement cane syrup; and the Old Fashioned takes a trip to South America with the replacement of bourbon with mezcal. Blue Tavern’s wine list  focuses on local vintners, many of whom have tasting rooms in the Funk Zone, just blocks from the restaurant.|

Nikki and Jeff Nelson, owners of Liquid Farm, the small production wine project focused on Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay and Happy Canyon AVA Rosé, are plowing through this year’s early harvest in a boutique winery space within the newly-established, local coop facility, the Buellton Wine Center (65 Los Padres Way, Buellton) with the help of friend and winemaker, James Sparks. Located just half of a mile north of Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Taproom Restaurant, Liquid Farm joins seven other Santa Barbara County wine producers in the Coop, including Bonaccorsi Wine CompanyLarner WineryCasa Dumetz Wines and Municipal Winemakers. Michael Larner, the visionary behind the new Coop, has transformed two adjacent industrial buildings into private, individually walled-off wine production spaces outfitted with communal harvest equipment and resources, as well as cooperative common areas. |

As part of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival celebration, from January 30 – February 9, Film Feast 2014 will take you and your taste buds on a culinary journey of cuisine and libations, made famous in Santa Barbara. Local talents and ingredients have come together to produce award-worthy tasting flights. Nominees include “The Graduate Wine Flight” at Au Bon Climat Wine Tasting Room and The Jim Clendenen Wine Library (813 Anacapa St.) which includes eight wines comprised of four sets – one older and one younger vintage of the same wine.

Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on December 27, 2013

Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”