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GARAGISTES – (gar-uh-zhē-stuh) 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.

Remember, whether you see the glass as half empty or half full,
there’s always room for more wine.

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


The Garagiste Wine Festival Presents $20,000 Donation to Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Program

US’ premier artisan wine festival supports education for aspiring winemakers; festival announces Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture program continues as beneficiary for 2015

Paso Robles, CA – January 21, 2015  The Garagiste Festival presented a check for $20,000 to the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture department from proceeds raised at its 2014 Garagiste Festivals. It also announced that the Cal Poly program will continue to be a beneficiary of the festivals in 2015, including the upcoming ‘Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure,’ scheduled for March 27th – 29th in Solvang.

The check was presented in the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture lab in San Luis Obispo where students are benefitting from spectrophotometers purchased using funds donated by the Garagiste Festivals in 2013. On hand to receive the $20,000 check from Garagiste Festival Co-founders Stewart McLennan and Doug Minnick were Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Department Interim Head Marianne McGarry Wolf and Wine and Viticulture Lecturer Shohreh S. Niku, who utilizes the equipment purchased with Garagiste donations to help Cal Poly winemaking students accurately and routinely measure a variety of wine chemistry components critical to the production of superior wines.

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“In addition to throwing a spotlight on small-lot, innovative artisan winemakers, a huge part of our mission is to further the education of future winemakers. It was very exciting today to see the results of our efforts at work at Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture,” said Garagiste Festival Co-founder Doug Minnick. “We have many alums of the program among the exceptional winemakers pouring at our festivals and could not be more proud to be part of helping shape the future of our industry, starting with its next generation of winemakers.”

Launched in Paso Robles in 2011, the Garagiste Festivals were the first to shine a light on the American garagiste* winemakers, commercial artisan winemakers who handcraft under 1,500 cases a year and pay close, hands-on attention to every wine they make. The only festivals in the US dedicated to these innovative, hard-to-find winemakers, the Garagiste Festivals have helped thousands of consumers discover the remarkable wines of hundreds of garagistes.

“We appreciate the Garagiste Festival’s continued support of our program and its contribution to the vitality of our area, which is rapidly evolving into one of the most important wine regions in the world. We believe our program embraces the entrepreneurial spirit of the garagiste winemaker by integrating enology with viticulture and wine business. Our program reflects the evolution our wine region and the funds donated by the festival over the past three years, as well as the attention it has brought to our program, have truly made a difference,” said Wolf. “This year’s donation will go a long way to helping extend the footprint of our students in the wine industry. Thank you Garagiste Festival, and thank you to the hundreds of garagiste winemakers and sponsors who help make this festival possible.”

The Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Program includes nearly 300 undergraduate majors, making Cal Poly among the largest Wine and Viticulture programs in the country. The program uniquely integrates three fundamental components of the modern wine industry, with a curriculum emphasizing the inherent connectivity between wine grape growing in the vineyard, wine making in the winery, and wine selling in the marketplace through a unique “learn-by-doing” approach. The program is currently developing a Center for Wine and Viticulture that will include new state-of-the-art teaching facilities.

The non-profit Garagiste Festivals were named one of the ‘Top Nine Incredible Epicurean Vacations’ in the world by ABC News,* are described by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the premier wine events of the year,” and were dubbed “Best Festival” in Sunset Magazine’s ‘Best of the West’ in November.


Garagiste Events, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit organization that is proud to use the proceeds of the Festivals to support young winemakers at the Wine and Viticulture Program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The mechanism by which that happpens, The Garagiste Festivals, have allowed us to not only raise funds for our cause but also create an entirely new niche within the wine industry that supports small production artisan winemakers.