Garagiste Wine Festival, North Coast Edition: May 12, Sonoma

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, and keen attendees of wine tasting events will find them tucked in between the bigger more established players. But for anyone seeking exposure to many such producers, there aren’t a lot of options. Enter the Garagiste Winemakers Tasting, originally started in Paso Robles, but now popping up in various places around the state. The tasting highlights several dozen little wineries that many have never heard of, and might never hear of, except for the periodic opportunity to stroll around and taste their wines that this little tasting affords. Of the many wineries showcasing their wares, a majority just come into existence in the last six years, and all but a couple dozen 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.

The latest version of this tasting is coming to the North Country for the first time — specifically to Sonoma county. Held at the Veterans Memorial Hall in Sonoma, the event will start the day with a seminar, and then continue with a grand tasting event where more than 40 tiny winemakers will be showcasing their wares.

If you like discovering what’s next in the wine world, Saturday, May 12th might be a good opportunity to make some new discoveries.

2018 Garagiste Winemakers Tasting: Sonoma Edition
Grand Tasting: May 12th, 2018
2:00 PM to 5:00 PM (1:00 Early Entry available)
Sonoma Veterans Memorial Hall
126 1st Street W
Sonoma, CA 95476 (map)

Tickets for the tasting will run you $65 or if you want to attend seminars, get a boxed lunch from The Girl and the Fig, and get into the tasting early, you can get a VIP ticket for $115. 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!