Rise of the Garagistes: Notes on the Upcoming 4th Annual Festival


By Lisa Dinsmore

It’s hard to believe we’re coming up on the fourth Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles. When we started it was just one day that featured 45 Central Coast wineries. We had no idea if what we were doing would find an audience. Clearly we tapped into something, since we have been selling out our events ever since. For the past two years, we have expanded the number of days of the Festival so we could include more wineries - there are more garagistes making their winemaking dreams come true than we ever imagined - and it is exciting to help them get the attention they deserve.

This year’s Festival will feature 57 Paso-based wineries on Saturday, November 8th at the Paso Fairgrounds. The move to town has allowed the Festival to continue expanding and to be closer to everything Paso has to offer. While there are a significant number of garagistes returning, many who have participated from the very beginning – and have debuted their wines at the Festival like Nicora, LXV Wines and Paix Sur Terre - there are 20 wineries joining us for the first time, including new labels like Artisan Uprising, Mystic Hills and Tlo Wines, who will be pouring their very first vintages. What’s more fun than finding and sharing new wine discoveries?

The garagiste movement – defined by The Festival as wineries producing under 1500 cases per vintage - is growing like wildfire throughout California, which is why the focus of this year’s Opening Round event - on Friday, November 7th - is on out-of-town garagistes. Twenty wineries from every major California wine region - Napa, Sonoma, Sierra Foothills and Santa Barbara – will be bringing their latest vintages to town to pour at the Carlton Hotel in Atascadero. This special showcase will give attendees an even broader perspective on the diversity of these under-the-radar wineries.

Unlike many tastings, the Garagiste Festivals aren't tied down to one grape or style. The renegade spirit of our participants can be sampled in the glass with over 25 different grape varieties available to taste and enjoy. The wide array of what California has to offer will be on hand for those adventurous enough to expand their palate and explore something off the beaten path. Over 70% of the wineries participating do not have tasting rooms and over half make less than 500 cases a year, so this is a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with these emerging winemakers, taste their cutting-edge wines and get your hands on a few bottles before they are gone for good.

Events from November 6-9th. Tickets are currently on sale at http://www.garagistefestival.com.