From the Santa Barbara News-Press – January 26th
The popular wine show from Paso Robles, The Garagiste Festival is rolling its way down south to Solvang, in what will hopefully be an annual event, Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure.
Garagiste is all about celebrating the little guy and will feature 30 of Santa Ynez Valley’s high-quality, small-production winemakers, on February 16th. The new non-profit festival follows on the heels of 2012’s sold out Paso Robles Garagiste Festival, which hosted over 40 wineries and 1,000 attendees, and will incorporate the festival’s signature high quality wines, personal winemaker interaction and renegade spirit.
The Garagiste Festivals, are dedicated to discovering and promoting artisan garagiste winemakers and showcase high-quality, cutting-edge, small production, commercial wineries that produce fewer than 1,200 cases a year.
The term garagiste derives from a movement in Bordeaux from the mid 1990’s. It is the nick-name given to those who made “vin de garage” or garage wine and is in reference to a group of rebellious Bordeaux winemakers who were tired of the strict oenology and viticulture laws that govern the region. As they never had their own estate vineyard, the garagistes would have to buy their grapes, in some cases very sought after expensive grapes, they made wine of a modern style, unlike anything at the time. The term which at one point was a back handed compliment, has evolved to define wine that is made in a small quantities or micro-cuvée.
“In response to overwhelming demand, we have expanded the festival a hundred miles south to Santa Ynez Valley, one of the most exciting garagiste regions in the country,” said Garagiste Festival co-founder Doug Minnick. “The Santa Ynez Valley is the perfect next location as we continue to expand the Garagiste Festival to expose more garagistes to even more wine consumers.”
South African winemaker Ernst Storm, South Africa, makes wine under his own label Storm and is also head winemaker at Curtis Winery in Los Olivos, is looking forward to the event, “I think it is a great way for consumers to taste and also talk to smaller producers that they would not have gotten in touch with otherwise. It gives us winemakers the chance to showcase personality driven wines from small batches made with a lot of care and attention to detail in an intimate environment.” Storm will be pouring his 2011 Sauvignon Blanc-Santa Ynez Valley, 2009 Pinot Noir-Santa Maria Valley and the 2010 Pinot Noir-John Sebastiano Vineyard.
Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines, who is known for decanting his wine in to laboratory beakers, has a different take. “When you only make 4-500 case you don’t have much to get out there and shows like this are the perfect opportunity to showcase your wine to wine savvy consumers who don’t necessarily know about our names.” Schaffer is planning to pour a variety of his wines which will include will be his 2011 Viognier and Grenache Blanc, as well as his Mourvedre.
Melissa Sorongon, co-owner of Piedrasassi, is looking forward to taste some of her compatriot’s wines, “Because a lot of these winemakers don’t have their own vineyards, it would be interesting to try wines made from the same vineyards but by different winemakers.” Piedrasassi will have their 2010 Central Coast White, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Roussane as well as their 2009 Central Coast Syrah.
The Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure takes place at the Mission-style Veterans Memorial Hall in Solvang. The one-day festival begins at 11:00 AM with the seminar “The Ultimate Barrel Tasting – Oak Flavors Tasted and Explained”. Winemaker and vineyard owner Michael Larner, of Larner Vineyard, and winemaker Ryan Render, of Rendarrio Vineyards and cooperage Tonnellerie Saint Martin, bring their knowledge of viticulture, winemaking, and barrels to the table in this special comparison barrel tasting of wines made by McPrice Myers from the Larner Vineyard. Attendees will learn and taste through a selection of wines made from the same vineyards but put through different oak treatments. Basically, showing how oak can affect the finished product and change the profile of a wine.
Current wineries in attendance are: Altman Winery, Autonom, Baehner Fournier Vineyards, Blair Fox Cellars, Casa Dumetz, Center of Effort, Deovlet Wines, El Rey Wines, Frequency Wines, Ground Effect Wines, J. Wilkes Wines, Kaena Wine Co., Kessler-Haak Wines, La Fenetre Wines, Larner Winery, Luminesce, Nagy Wines, Native9 Wine, Pench Rance, Piedrasassi, Refugio Ranch, Roark Wine Co., Ryan Cochrane Wines, Shai Cellars, Storm Wines, Tercero Wines and Transcendence Wines., with more to come.