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


“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

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.