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Garagiste Wine Festival ‘Garagiste’ Winemakers From Across State Pour Over Four Days of Events This November By Sharen Rund Bloechl FOR VINO

When Stewart McLennan was traveling the world as a wine wholesaler he wined and dined on fabulous food and equally fabulous wine. And, while in France would ask different chateaus about wines from the surrounding areas. Most vintners would raise their arms dismissively and say, almost splittingly, “Non, you do not want to taste them! They are garagistes! They make wine in their garages!” Their skepticism and downgrading didn’t dissuade McLennan, he, “went into the towns and tasted the wines — most of them were excellent!” Skip ahead a number of years, and as the greater Paso Robles wine area grew so did budding home winemakers. But, other than


Fall 2014

the California Mid-State Fair and a few other similar competitions, there was no niche for budding winemakers to show off their wines. Most bottled about 500 cases a year, not enough to open a tasting room. Seeing this dilemma for the garage winemakers, Stewart and co-founder Doug Minnick decided to start a festival highlighting the small winemakers — The Garagiste Festival. Once a term to denigrate renegade small-lot winemakers [in France], sometimes working in their garage, who refused to follow the “rules.” Now, garagiste is a fullfledged movement dedicated to the undiscovered and under-recognized artisan garagiste producers who are making some of the best, most exciting, handcrafted small-lot production wines in the world. This year, the fourth annual event, Nov. 6 to 9 has been moved to the Ponderosa Pavil-

Published by the Paso

ion at the Paso Robles Event Center and other venues around the area. More than 70 garagiste winemakers are scheduled to pour over 150 wines during the non-profit festival. “We have an extraordinary and expanded line-up of winemakers this year. Many of our favorite Paso area garagistes are returning, along with new and exciting discoveries from Southern, Central and Northern California, most pouring in Paso for the very first time,” Minnick said. “We are also very excited about our tasting seminars this year.” Dennis Sharpe of DENO Wine is “excited to do Garagiste.” He loves that “Garagiste is helping to discovering the small places that have no place to pour their wines and meet the people.” Sharpe will be pouring his Alto Pomar Vineyards estate 2008, 09 and 10 GSM [Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre] and his 2010 Zinfandel Grenache blends.

Robles Press

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