Pouring wine for consumers is all well and good when you have a winery tasting room. You’re on the map, and people generally come to you. But what happens when you don’t even have a winery to call your own, let alone a tasting room staffed by hospitality employees? This is the challenge of the micro-winery, the estate-less producer, the custom crush brand. Small wineries that make a few hundred or couple of thousand cases of wine per year invariably have few opportunities to get their wines in front of consumers.
Enter the Garagiste Wine Festival, dedicated to supporting and showcasing wine brands that make less than 1500 cases of wine per year. There are definitely hundreds of such wine labels in California. More than 40 of them will be pouring their wines for anyone interested in trying them at the upcoming Garagist Wine Festival in Sonoma on April 29th.
Started in Paso Robles in 2011 with the hope of showcasing the many small wineries in that region, the festival has since begun traveling north as well to offer the same opportunities to small wineries in Napa and Sonoma, as well as to thirsty Bay Area consumers.
I love these kinds of tastings because they offer a sense of discovery. I’ve watched many a wine brand start out small at these kinds of tastings and end up an established name on the California Wine scene. Because of their scale, you’ll almost always be talking to the owner or the winemaker, and much of the time the person filling your glass will be both. So you get to learn first-hand what they’re about, what brought them to wine, and what they’re trying to do with it.
Vintners pouring will include: Accenti Wines, Alta Orsa Wines, Bard Clan Wines, Belong Wine Co., Boonville Road Wines, Burning Bench, Calstar Cellars, Carpenter Wine, Cazadero Winery, Dane Cellars, Darling Wines, Elaine Wines, Enriquez Wines, Fest Wine Co., Fields Family Wines, Gondak Cellars, Greyscale Wines, Intent Wines, Kendric Vineyards, Kitson Wines, Lussier Wine Co., Mangels Vineyards, Manzanita Grove Vineyard, Monroy Wines, Moose Mountain Vineyards, Murder Ridge, Omega Road Winery, Parea Wines, Perri Jaye Vineyards, Pine Mountain Vineyards, Puppione Family Wines, Read Holland Wines, Ricci Vineyards, Rock & Clay Wines, Stressed Vines Cellars, Sugarloaf Wine Co., The Elkhoury Family Vineyard, The Grenachista Wine Co., Theopolis Vineyards, Thomas T Thomas Vineyards, Tiny Vineyards Wine Co and Tognetti Family Winery.
So mark your calendars and go check out a bunch of tiny producers making their way in the wine world on April 29th. There will be cheese and sliced meats and various nibbles along with wine.
Garagiste Wine Festival: Northern Exposure Edition
Saturday, April 29, 2023
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Veterans Memorial Hall
126 First Street West
Sonoma, CA 95476 (map)
Tickets for the event run $75 for standard admission $100 for VIP admission which gets you into a special reserve tasting area for the first hour of the event. Tickets should be purchased in advance online.
My usual recommendations for such events apply: get a good night’s sleep, go with food in your stomach, drink lots of water, wear clothes that won’t show a red wine stain, and if you want to learn instead of inebriate, spit!