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GARAGISTES – (garage-east) n, Fr. – A term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their garage, who refused to follow the “rules.” Now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world. Who’s laughing now, Francois? Syn: Rule-breakers, pioneers, renegades, mavericks, driven by passion.

Welcome to Garagiste, a place for the underground, the different, and the cutting edge of small production winemaking with no rules.

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Eventbrite - The 8th Annual Paso Garagiste Wine Festival

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The Garagiste Festival Wins ‘Best Wine Festival’ in USA Today’s 10Best Readers Choice Awards

The Garagiste Festival, which has ignited awareness of the American garagiste winemaker, achieves number one spot as it celebrates its 8th anniversary ofshowcasing outstanding and under-the-radar California artisan winemakers

Paso Robles, CA – September 4th, 2018 – The Garagiste Wine Festival has been named the US’ “Best Wine Festival” in USA Today’s 10Best Readers Choice Awards.

 Launched in 2011 in Paso Robles, the Garagiste Festival was the first to define, and shine a spotlight on, the American “garagiste*” wine movement and features the wines of commercial artisan winemakers who make under 1500 cases.  At its festivals across California – from Paso to Los Angeles to Sonoma to Solvang – The Garagiste Festival has introduced hundreds of outstanding under-the-radar California artisan winemakers to thousands of passionate wine consumers, members of the trade and media.

“When we came up with the idea eight years ago, we were pretty sure we had lightning in a bottle, but at that point it was just intuition,” said Doug Minnick, Co-founder of The Garagiste Festival. “Fortunately, there was an amazing core of people who understood our vision – from the wineries who poured, the sponsors who supported us, the volunteers who helped make it happen and the fans who bought tickets to what was then an unknown event.  We sold out that first festival – and every festival since then.”

Dubbed “tasting nirvana” ‘strange and wondrous,’ and “one not to miss” by the LA Times, the Garagiste Festival is renowned for its renegade spirit, passionate winemakers, handcrafted wines and rules-breaking, ‘no snobs allowed’ ethos. The non-profit festival, which celebrates its 21st festival in Paso Robles in November, has raised over $125K to support the education of future winemakers through the Garagiste Festival Scholarship fund of the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo Wine and Viticulture Department.

“We are eternally grateful to our supporters, a network that has continued to expand and which has had a real impact not only on the wine world, but also, through the Garagiste Scholarship Fund, on the future of winemaking,” continued Minnick.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Jill Barth, a Provence Wine Master; Karen MacNeil, one of the foremost wine experts in the U.S.; and June Rodil, a Master Sommelier were chosen for their knowledge of wine and the American wine scene.

“We have always been focused on quality and pushing the boundaries of convention, and we have never lost our healthy dose of irreverent optimism,” said Garagiste Festival Co-founder Stewart McLennan.  “Thank you to everyone who voted for us as the Best Festival in the US for validating that optimism, and to the 10Best Editors for nominating us. The Festival, like the wineries who participate in it, sprang from humble beginnings and has flourished as a true labor of love.”

The US’ Best Wine Festival marks its 21st festival, and 8th anniversary, at its home base in Paso Robles, November 9th through the 11th, with three days of events, including a Grand Tasting that showcases over 60 micro production winemakers (20% pouring at the festival for the first time), tasting seminars, a Rare and Reserve tasting, a Keep It Rockin’ After Party, and more.  Tickets are on sale now at https://www.eventbrite.com/myevent?eid=49769338431.  

About The Garagiste Wine Festival

The Garagiste Wine Festival (http://www.garagistefestival. com), named the ‘Best Wine Festival in the US in 2018 in USA Today’s 10Best Readers Choice Awards, is the first and only wine festival dedicated to the undiscovered and under-recognized American artisan ‘garagiste’ producers who are making some of the best, most exciting, handcrafted small-lot production wines in the world. Founded by fellow garagistes Stewart McLennan and Douglas Minnick, the Garagiste Festivals are committed to discovering the best and most innovative limited-production winemakers and promoting and showcasing them to a broad audience of discerning wine consumers. In addition to its flagship annual festival in Paso Robles, CA, the Garagiste Festival line-up includes Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure, featuring Santa Ynez Valley garagistes; the Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure, in Los Angeles; the Garagiste Festival, Northern Exposure, in Sonoma; winemaker dinners, a newsletter, garagiste profiles and more.

In addition to being named the US’ Best Wine Festival, the Garagiste Festival was named one of the ‘Top Nine Incredible Epicurean Vacations’ in the world by ABC News, * “one of the premier wine events of the year,” by the LA Times and “Best Festival” by Sunset Magazine’s ‘Best of the West.’ The festivals are produced by Garagiste Events, a non-profit dedicated to furthering the education of future winemakers and those training for employment within the wine industry. Proceeds from the festivals support the Garagiste Festival Scholarship fund of the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis ObispoWine and Viticulture Department.

*Garagistes (garage-east) 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,” and is now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world.  The Garagiste Festivals were the first to shine a light on the American garagiste winemaker in 2011.

Media Contacts:

mWEBB Communications for The Garagiste Festivals
Melanie Webber, melanie@mwebbcom.com424-603-4340


Our very first video describing who and what a “garagiste” is.


 Why are the Garagiste Festivals Different?

1. Our focus is on small-production winemaking.

Most other wine events focus on a single region or certain varietal (Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Rhones, etc.), but not The Garagiste Festival. This is the widest range of wines available in one place anywhere, from all over California – Paso Robles, Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Sierra Foothills, and more. Our case limit is around 1500 per vintage so this is hands-on, high-quality winemaking.

2. You can taste over TWENTY different varietals.

Sure, we’ll have excellent Cab, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Zin, and all the faves, but you will also be able to taste Teroldego, Albarino, Riesling, Mourvedre, Petite Verdot, Tempranillo, Grenache Blanc, many different Rosés, amazing blends, and many more. Expand your palate, find new favorites.

3. You will have a hard time finding these wineries on your own.

The majority of these wineries do not have tasting rooms and aren’t on “wine country” maps. We know where to find them and we bring them to you…all in one place. Let us do the work so you can do the tasting!

4. The average price of a bottle of red at our Festivals is about $40.

Nowhere else can you taste so many wines (over 200!) at this price point and level of quality for one low entry fee. You will have an amazing opportunity to taste world-class wines and discover your new favorites without having to commit to the purchase of a whole bottle.

5. No Black Ties Here

Lots of wine organizations hold expensive fundraising events, sometimes formal, sometimes a bit stuffy. Not here – this is casual and fun. As we like to say, “No Snobs Allowed”

6. No Annoying Crowds, Either

Ever been to wine festival where you have to fight your way to the table to get a taste? That doesn’t happen at the Garagiste Festival. We limit ticket sales to make sure you will have a comfortable, uncrowded experience, and even have time to talk to the winemakers. And that brings us to…

7. It’s the Winemakers and Owners themselves pouring their wines.

No robotic, scripted sales pitches like “this wine goes perfect with a Sunday BBQ!” or “Would you like fries with that?” You will be talking to the passionate people who make these wines, and get to hear their personal stories about why they make them. The winemakers love talking to you – they always tell us this is their favorite crowd for which to pour.

8. You help deserving students at Cal Poly just by drinking wine!

We are a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization dedicated to the education and support of future professionals in the wine industry through The Garagiste Festival Scholarships at Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo. Simply by buying a ticket and drinking excellent wine you are doing a good deed. And that makes you a good person!