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You may have heard of the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, but how about the Paso Robles Garagiste?
A Garagistes (gar-uh-zhē-stuh) is a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their “garages” (anything considered not a chateau), who refused to follow the rules. It’s now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world.
Breaking the rules is nothing new for many Paso vintners, which is why I’m intrigued by the 2012 Garagiste Festival, a four-day event (November 8 – 11) that showcases four dozen of Paso’s high-quality, cutting-edge, small production wineries (fewer than 1,200 cases a year).
Named one of the “Top Nine Incredible Epicurean Vacations” in the world by ABC News, the non-profit Garagiste Festival – which features four days of tastings, winemaker seminars and events – benefits the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Program.
Kicking off the Garagiste Festival on November 8 is a special winemaker dinner featuring Chef Ludo Lefebvre, famous for his wildly popular LudoBites “pop-up” restaurants. He will match his six-course menu with wines of six garagiste winemakers (Alta Colina Vineyards, Bon Niche Cellars, Cloak & Dagger Wines, Cutruzzola Vineyards, La Filice Winery and Von Holt Wines) that represent the diversity and rebel spirit of the 48 garagistes pouring at the festival.
The LudoBites Garagiste Dinner will be hosted at Paso Robles’ Thomas Hill Organics, one of the rising stars of the Central Coast restaurant scene.
“As a fan of all things guerilla and grassroots in the world of wine and food, I am thrilled to be a part of The Garagiste Festival and look forward to creating a menu that highlights the unique tastes and stunning wines of the region’s artisan producers,” says Lefebvre.
“We could not imagine a more perfect philosophical and epicurean match for our amazing garagiste winemakers than Chef Ludo who, like them, has broken a few rules on his way to creating dishes that every year are on food critics’ top ten lists,” notes Garagiste Festival Co-founder Stewart McLennan. “We are honored that he has chosen to create this special dinner as part of the 2012 Garagiste Festival. His presence helps further our goal of bringing attention to the garagiste movement and its remarkable and passionate winemakers.”
The Garigiste Festival continues on Friday, November 9, with a winemaker mixer. Guests can meet the garagistes in a more casual, one-on-one setting and sample some rare and unusual wines that won’t be available at Saturday’s tasting (including barrel samples and pre-releases).
Saturday’s lineup features a seminar on Syrah hosted by winemaker Andrew Murray, and a seminar on emerging varietals.
Then, it’s time for the grand tasting. On Saturday from 3 to 5 pm, 48 winemakers will be pouring over 150 different wines. Everything from A to Z (Albarino to Zinfandel) will be available to try. For those who are still standing, there will be a winemakers after-party from 6 to 9 pm.
On Sunday is a final winemaker symposium on crafting the first vintage.
Tickets are still available for most events, although they’ll sure to sell out so check availability soon by visiting www.garagistefestival.com.
And in case you’re wondering, participating wineries include: Aaron Wines, Alta Colina Vineyards, Ambyth Estate, Anglim Winery, Argot Wines, Barton Family, Bodega de Edgar, Bodegas M, Bon Niche Cellars, Caliza Winery, Cayucos Cellars, Center of Effort, Changala Winery, Cloak and Dagger Wines, Cutruzzola Vineyards, Edmond August Wines, Filipponi Ranch Cellars, Giornata, Ground Effect Wines, Henson Wines, J Dusi, Jacob Toft, JK Wine Company, Kaleidos Winery, La Filice, Les Deux Chats, Liquid Farm, Luminesce, Nicora, Paix Sur Terre, Paso Port Wines, Per Cazo Cellars, Pipestone Vineyards, Ranchero Cellars, Rangeland Wines, Red Zeppelin Winery, Rendarrio Vineyards, Sinor La Vallee, St. Hilaire, Stage Left Cellars, STANGER Vineyards, Thomas Alexander Wines, Two Shepherds, Vin Alegre, Vines on the Marycrest, Von Holt Wines, Westberg Cellars and Zin Alley.