One of my favorite pastimes involves tasting wines made by small winemakers who either are just beginning their journeys to becoming more established, or those who are deliberately small and will always remain that way. And by deliberately small, I mean they make a couple of hundred cases of wine, have no tasting room and no vineyards to their name. California is full of these sorts of wineries, and while not all of them are great, these small estate-less wine brands can make some truly excellent wines.
Every region of the state plays host to some of these wine labels, but only one has a festival that specifically showcases them. Enter the Paso Robles Garagiste Winemakers Tasting, which highlights 48 little wineries that many have never heard of, and might never hear of except for this opportunity to stroll around and taste their wines on November 10th.
Of these 48 wineries, which you can find listed on the event's web site, more than half have just come into existence in the last six years, and all but 19 of them have no tasting room, and more than 90 percent of them have no employees other than the winemaker. The term artisan should probably be banned from overuse at this point, but here's once place where it definitely applies.
So if you're down towards Paso Robles, or if you want to take a field trip, the weekend of November 10th might be a good time to head that way. The grand tasting is your opportunity to walk around and taste all these wines, but the festival also offers seminars that morning, and an introduction to winemaking class on the following day, for those who are so inspired that they want to get into the business themselves.
2012 Garagiste Winemakers Tasting
Grand Tasting: Saturday November 10th
2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
4715 Flying Paster Lane
Paso Robles, CA 93446 (map)
Tickets for the tasting only will run you $60 or if you want to attend seminars and get lunch you can get a VIP ticket for $110. They're available on the event web site, and will likely sell out, so get yours soon.
My usual tips for such tastings apply: wear dark clothes; leave the perfume at home; drink lots of water; eat before or during the tasting; and spit if you want to learn anything!
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