Cocktail Corner: Garagiste Wine Festival

Garagiste Festival 2017, courtesy photo.

Garagiste Festival 2017, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Recently named “America’s Best Wine Festival” by USA Today, the Garagiste Wine Festival returns to Solvang February 8 – 10. “Garagistes” (pronounced 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. 

Showcasing the wines of some of California’s best small production winemakers, the seventh anniversary festival has a number of different components, including the popular “‘Original Garagiste” seminar, featuring Central Coast winemaking legend Ken Brown of Ken Brown Wines interviewed by Garagiste Festival Co-founder and KRUSH radio host, Stewart McLennan.

“We are proud to lead off our main event with a one-on-one discussion and tasting with Ken Brown—a true original ‘garagiste’ many years before micro-production winemaking became a movement,’ says McLennan.  “Ken was one of the first to recognize the cool climate potential of this region back in the 70s and to craft delicious wines from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay right here in Santa Barbara. We are looking forward to an informative and inspiring conversation as we taste some of his delicious wines.” 

Brown’s winery, Ken Brown Wines, focuses on very small lots of Pinot Noir from the finest vineyards of Sta. Rita Hills. Recognized as one of Santa Barbara County’s pioneering winemakers and innovators, he was the founding winemaker at Zaca Mesa Winery and spent 20 years at Byron Winery as well. Not only was Ken Brown among the first vintners to realize the tremendous promise for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Santa Barbara County, he was also the first winemaker to introduce the Syrah grape, as well as Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, to the region. The “Original Garagiste” seminar runs from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 9 and will focus on how he helped shape the Santa Barbara wine scene and why he ultimately returned to small-lot winemaking. 

Winemaker Ken Brown leads off the 2019 Garagiste Festival with a one-on-one discussion and tasting. Photo by Rocco Ceselin, courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Winemaker Ken Brown leads off the 2019 Garagiste Festival with a one-on-one discussion and tasting. Photo by Rocco Ceselin, courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Dubbed a “tasting nirvana,” “strange and wondrous” and “one not to miss” by the Los Angeles Times, the Garagiste Festival is renowned for its renegade spirit, passionate winemakers, handcrafted wines and rules-breaking, anti-snobby ethos. The wines are poured directly by their makers, and it’s definitely one of the most fun—and accessible—festivals to talk to winemakers about their passion projects. 

In many cases the winemakers are employed by larger wineries but showcase their own, lovingly crafted, small batch concoctions at the Garagiste Festival. For example, Marisa Matela Beverly is Owner/Winemaker of Bevela Wines (which will be showcased at the festival), but has also been working with Au Bon Climat, Qupe and Verdad wineries since 2008.

“Under these two pioneers of Santa Barbara county wine, I try to soak up as much knowledge as I can,” says Beverly. “Over the years, this has helped fine tune my palate and path in winemaking. I am allowed all the freedom I want when it comes to the production of my wines. This helps keep Bevela Wines unique and very boutique.  The best example of influence and yet freedom is my barrel aging regime.  I saw and tasted what extended aging can do for certain Italian varieties, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to use this technique.  It is not the most cost effective—and takes a lot of floor space—but the end results are undeniable, it is worth it!”

Guests can taste those end results on Friday, February 8 at the popular “No Repeats, Rare & Reserve,” tasting, where attendees can get up close and personal with the winemakers as they share limited Club Only, Library and Pre-Release bottles and Barrel samples, and enjoy a BBQ buffet from local favorite Neighbor Tim’s BBQ.

Bevela is pouring a library selection of the Matela Teroldego (the 2010 vintage) as well as the current release (the 2012 vintage).  “We also have a special selection of 2014 Presqu’ile Syrah, only bottled in magnum and only available to our allocation list.  This wine is our silent auction item on Saturday,” says Beverly, who will be pouring her  2017 “Fractured Emergence” Chardonnay, 2012 “Matela” Teroldego, 2015 “Old Fashioned Superstition” Syrah, and 2015 “Unforeseen Alchemy” Red Blend at the Grand Tasting Event on Saturday, February 9.

The Grand Tasting runs from 2-5 p.m. showcasing over 40 winemakers pouring 150+ wines and 20+ unique varieties. Among the winemakers scheduled to pour are: Ascension Cellars, Bevela Wines, Blatty, Bodega de Edgar, Bolshoi Family Wines, Byron, Camlow Cellars, Cholame Vineyard, Cloak & Dagger Wines, Copia Vineyards, Cordon Wines, Corner Cellars, Cutruzzola Vineyards, D.Volk Wines, Dascomb Cellars, DeWit Vineyard, Dracaena Wines, Elwood Wines, Ferguson Family Winery, Golden Triangle, Greyscale Wines, Hoi Polloi Winery, Kaleidos Winery, Kimsey Vineyards, Kings Carey, Lepiane Wines, Luna Hart, Maiden Stoen, Marin’s Vineyard, MCV, Metrick Wines, Montagne Russe, Montemar Winery, Nexo, Pelletiere Estate, RF Fine Wines, Ryan Cochrane Wines, Seagrape, Sycamore Ranch, Temperance Cellars, Tercero Wines, Thomas William Fermentation Company, Torch Cellars, Volatus, and Westerly Wines

All tickets include unlimited tastes, complimentary cheese and charcuterie and a souvenir Stolzle crystal wine glass—plus a Silent Auction full of enticing wine packages which benefits The Garagiste Scholarship at Cal Poly

Dana Volk of D.Volk Wines is pouring at the Garagiste Festival, and offering special discounts to festival attendees at her nearby Solvang tasting room. Photo by Bottle Branding, courtesy D.Volk Wines.

Dana Volk of D.Volk Wines is pouring at the Garagiste Festival, and offering special discounts to festival attendees at her nearby Solvang tasting room. Photo by Bottle Branding, courtesy D.Volk Wines.

Dana Volk, Owner/Winemaker of D.Volk Wines, will be pouring on Friday (her 2016 John Sebastiano Vineyard Syrah, which is usually only available to wine club members) and Saturday. She says, “I have poured wine at many festivals in my 25 years in this business and this is by far my favorite one to show my wine at! The attendees are genuinely interested in getting to know you personally and to learn about the wines and winemaking.”

On Saturday she’ll be pouring and offering special discounts on D.Volk Wines’ 2017 Curtis Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Ynez Valley; 2017 Grenache Blanc, Dorigo Family Vineyards, Ballard Canyon; 2017 Rosé, Camp 4 Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley; 2015 Pinot Noir, Duvarita Vineyard, Santa Barbara County; and 2016 Hampton Family Vineyard Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley.

“There is a special place in our hearts for Solvang, and for the amazing small production winemakers who pour at this venue. Solvang, and the beautiful Veteran’s Memorial Hall, lend such a charming and intimate setting for attendees to chat and taste with the winemakers and owners who will be pouring their hard-to-find wines. We love the diversity of the wines poured here, with multiple micro-climates, grape varieties and innovative blends represented.” says Garagiste Festival cofounder Doug Minnick

With the exception of the Passport Day tastings, which take place at individual wineries and tasting rooms, all festival weekend events take place at Solvang Veterans’ Memorial Hall, 1745 Mission Dr., Solvang.

Tickets are very limited, so if you want to go, you should act now. To purchase tickets, click here. Hope to see some of you there. 

Cheers! Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

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 believes variety is the spice of life. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 25, 2019.

Cocktail Corner: Southern Exposure Garagiste Wine Festival

Southern Exposure Garagiste Wine Festival returns to Solvang Feb. 9-11, featuring just about every varietal of small production wines. Courtesy photo.

Southern Exposure Garagiste Wine Festival returns to Solvang Feb. 9-11, featuring just about every varietal of small production wines. Courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

The Garagiste Festival is back in Solvang next month and I am so excited to taste what they have in store for us this year.

A fun and very unique wine festival celebrating small production wines and their makers (who are usually there to pour and talk about all things vino), Garagistes (garage-east) is a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to put down renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their “garages” (anything not a chateau), who refused to follow the rules, and has now become a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world.

The 2018 Southern Exposure Garagiste Wine Festival, which features more than 30 of California’s best micro-production wineries, takes place on Feb. 9-11 at the Veterans’ Memorial Hall in Solvang (1745 Mission Dr.). 

New this year, the festival’s sixth in Santa Barbara County, is a seminar series that pays tribute to the “Original Garagistes,” featuring a Q&A and wine tasting with Central Coast winemaking pioneer, Bob Lindquist of Qupé.  An original Rhône Ranger (America’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting American Rhone varietal wines) and recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award, Lindquist was one of the first in the wine industry to advocate American-made Syrah and other Rhône varietals. His winery Qupé has been named one of the Wineries of the Year for Wine & Spirits Magazine every year since 1999.

“A true original garagiste, Bob is an inspiration to micro-production winemakers everywhere and epitomizes everything that the American Garagiste movement is about—handcrafting stunning wines from under-appreciated grapes, ignoring established rules, innovating and taking risks and generously sharing knowledge with peers,” says Garagiste Festival Co-founder Doug Minnick.  “There would be no Garagiste movement, no Rhone Rangers—and the Central Coast would still be a blip on the way to Napa—without visionary winemakers like Bob.”

Southern Exposure Garagiste Wine Festival returns to Solvang Feb. 9-11, for its sixth annual festival. Courtesy photo.

Southern Exposure Garagiste Wine Festival returns to Solvang Feb. 9-11, for its sixth annual festival. Courtesy photo.

The weekend’s fun kicks off on Friday night, Feb. 9, with a “No Repeats, Rare and Reserve” tasting and BBQ, featuring food from local favorite Neighbor Tim’s BBQ (6480 Calle Real, Goleta). The “Original Garagiste” event with Lindquist takes place on Saturday, Feb. 10, immediately preceding the Grand Tasting, at Veterans Memorial Hall. Sunday, Feb. 11 marks the return of Passport Day, which offers special deals at participating local wineries for Garagiste Festival ticket holders who want to further explore the area.

Winemakers already scheduled to pour include:

Ann Albert Wines, Santa Barbara County

Ascension Cellars, Paso Robles

Bevela Wines, Central Coast

 

Courtesy photo.

Courtesy photo.

Bradley Family Winery, Santa Ynez Valley

Buscador Wine, Buellton

Byron Blatty Wines, Los Angeles

Caliza Winery, Paso Robles

Camlow Cellars, Russian River Valley

Cavaletti Vineyards, Southern California

Cholame Vineyard, Buellton

Cloak & Dagger Wines, Paso Robles

Clos de Amis Winery, Ventura County

Cordon Wine, Santa Barbara County

D. Volk Wines, Santa Ynez Valley 

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Diablo Paso, Paso Robles

Dunites Wine Co., San Luis Obispo County

Dusty Nabor Wines, Westlake Village

El Lugar Wines, San Luis Obispo

Elwood Wines, Santa Maria Valley

Golden Triangle, Paso Robles

Ground Truth Wine, Santa Barbara County

Hoi Polloi Wines, Central Coast

Kimsey Vineyards, Santa Barbara County

Luna Hart Wines, Buellton

March Wines, Napa Valley

Marin’s Vineyard, Lockwood 

Courtesy Garagiste Festival

MCV Wines, Morro Bay

Metrick Wines, throughout California

Mollie Wines, Santa Barbara County

Montagne Russe, Mill Valley

Montemar Winery, Lompoc

Ryan Cochrane Wines, Santa Barbara County

Serrano Wine, Paso Robles

Sycamore Ranch Winery, Crestline

TLO Wines,  Paso Robles

Torch Cellars, Paso Robles 

TW Fermentation Co., Paso Robles

Velvet Bee Wine, Santa Ynez Valley

Vino Vargas, San Miguel

Volatus Wines, Paso Robles

Weatherborne Wine Co., Santa Barbara County

Called “wildly exuberant and fun,” “wine tasting Nirvana” and “not-to-be missed’ by the Los Angeles Times, Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure has showcased hundreds of micro-production winemakers from Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez area, many of who poured their first vintage at the festival and have gone on to greater renown.

Garagiste Festivals Inc. is a nonprofit organization and benefits the Garagiste Scholarship at Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Department, so not only can you drink great wine and meeting interesting winemakers, your ticket also gives back to local youth. 

For more information, visit californiagaragistes.com. Hope to see some of you there.  Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

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.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons

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on January 19, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Garagiste Wine Festival

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg  

April Fools’ Day is coming soon, and what better way to celebrate the lighter side of life than one of my favorite wine festivals: the 2017 Garagiste Wine Festival: Southern Exposure.

The unique thing about this event is that it showcases micro-production wines made made by garagiste winemakers, commercial artisan winemakers who handcraft under 1,500 cases a year and pay close, hands-on attention to every wine they make.
Starting in 2011, the nonprofit Garagiste Festivals have introduced hundreds of outstanding artisan winemakers to thousands of passionate wine consumers, members of the trade and media, raising the profiles of many of the winemakers nationally for the first time, and raising thousands of dollars for the education of future winemakers.  The festival benefits the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Department.
Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

“Garagistes” (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.
Here’s the schedule for this fun event:

Friday, March 31: “Rare & Reserve” Kick-Off Party: 6:30-9 p.m. with tastings of limited Club Only, Verticals, Library and Pre-Release bottles

Saturday, April 1: Seminars 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
“What’s Wrong With This Picture? Educate Your Palate About the Most Common Wine Flaws” moderated by winemaker and festival co-founder Stewart McLennan, is led by Marcy Mallette, Winemaker/Technical Representative for Laffort USA

and

“An Exploration of Grenache: Not Just for Blending Anymore” featuring Zac Wasserman (Frequency Wines), Sonja Magdevski (Casa Dumetz) and Cris Carter (Weatherborne), along with their wines.

Saturday, April 1Grand Tasting 2-5 p.m.

Sunday, April 2: Passport Day, where, for the first time ever, local Santa Ynez Valley wineries will be offering special opportunities for Garagiste Festival attendees. Vineyard tours, winery tours, barrel samples, free and discounted tastings, discounted pricing and club-member-for-a-day benefits are just some of the treats being offered by participating wineries.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Courtesy Garagiste Festival.

Get ready for a comfortable and relaxed tasting experience with personal winemaker interaction, high quality wines, first-time and soon-to-break-out discoveries (*seven winemakers will be pouring for the first time), diverse grape varieties and a renegade and fun-loving spirit on display.

Winemakers scheduled to pour include: Artisan Uprising, Ascension Cellars, Bevela Wines, Bradley Family Wines, Brian Benson Cellars, Camlow Cellars, Carivintas, Carter Paul Wines*, Casa Dumetz Wines, Central Coast Group Project, Cholame Vineyards, Cloak & Dagger Wines, Clos des Amis, Coda Wines, Comartin Cellars*, Cordon Wines, Dascomb Cellars, El Lugar Wines, Frequency Wine Co., Golden Triangle, Iter Wines, Jalopy Wine Company*, Jamie Slone Wines*, JP3 Wines, Kaleidos Winery, Larner Vineyards, Levo Wines, Mallea Wines, Mattina Fiore, McKinney Family Vineyards*, MCV Wines, Metrick Wines*, Mollie Wines, Montemar Winery, Ryan Cochrane Wines, Seagrape Wine Co, Serrano Wines, Skyenna Wines*, Tercero Wines, Turiya Wines, Weatherborne and West of Temperance. 

Tickets are very limited and Garagiste Festivals always sell out. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit http://garagistefestival.com.

Hope to see you there! Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

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.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 24, 2017.

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.”