Press Release: 11/21/11

Garagiste Winemakers Rock Paso at Sold Out Festival

Vines on the Marycrest Wins First Annual “Spirit of Garagiste” Award;
Over 40 Artisan Winemakers Pour

Paso Garagiste announced today that Victor Abascal of Vines on the Marycrest has won the first annual “Spirit of Garagiste” Award presented as part of the inaugural Paso Garagiste Festival on November 12th. The award is dedicated to a winemaker who best exemplifies the do-whatever-it-takes spirit of the small-lot winemaker (or garagiste*), while also producing excellent wines. The sold-out festival featured over 40 high-quality, cutting-edge, small production wineries that produce fewer than 1,200 cases a year – all pouring at the Windfall Farms Stallion Barn for over 700 attendees from across the US.

“We are overwhelmed at the reception the festival received – and sorry to have had to turn people away – but pleased that the intimate setting meant that attendees had an opportunity to get to know the winemakers and truly savor their pours,” said Paso Garagiste Co-Founder Stewart McLennan. “Clearly, we have touched a chord: the response to the festival demonstrates that the wine world is on the brink of a truly exciting movement. And, at Paso Garagiste, we are more dedicated than ever to exposing consumers to these passionate, dedicated, hands-on winemakers, who are making some of the most stunning wines anywhere.”

McLennan noted that will be expanding both in content and scope in the very near future to enable consumers to not only read and blog about garagiste winemakers, but also to purchase their wines online through the Paso Garagiste wine club. In addition, plans are already underway for Paso Garagiste Festival 2012.

“There is no question that the festival included many of the future rock stars of the wine world,” said Paso Garagiste Co-Founder Doug Minnick. “And Victor Abascal of Vines on the Marycrest, our “Spirit of Garagiste” award winner, is a great example of that.”

Abascal, who runs Vines on the Marycrest as essentially a one-man (or one family, including his wife Jennifer and two young children) operation, commutes 600 miles a week between his family and winery in Paso and his ‘day job’ in Los Angeles – and was an early Paso Garagiste advocate, finding the time to support every event and effort leading up to the festival. Running his operation out of a very large garage adjacent to his house and vineyard in Paso, Abascal’s Paso Robles Zinfandel and Rhone blends have won numerous awards.

“Like so many of his fellow garagistes, Victor sacrifices a lot for his wine and his winery, and pursues it with an infectious enthusiasm and the skill of a true craftsman. His wines are excellent, a true reflection of the love and passion he puts into them,” continued Minnick. “Victor spent much of the festival escorting attendees around to taste the wines of his fellow winemakers… epitomizing the collaboration and sharing that makes Paso fertile ground for garagistes.”
Said Abascal: “The Paso Garagiste Festival was a fantastic event run by people I like very much, in a place I like very much, about people I like very much, based on a subject I like very much. I liked it very much! I can’t wait to participate next year, and defend my heavy-weight title.”

Added Minnick, “Victor’s ability to put up with endless winemaking questions from some of the Paso Garagiste crew, even letting them sleep on his floor, was not a factor in the award. No really, it wasn’t…”

The inaugural Garagiste Festival also featured standing room only seminars, including a panel of Paso’s top established winemakers with Justin Smith of Saxum, Terry Culton of Adelaida Cellars, and Neil Collins of Tablas Creek Vineyards and Lone Madrone, moderated by Paso Garagiste co-founder Stewart McLennan; and an oak barrel tasting from Christian Tietje, winemaker and co-owner at Cypher Winery, and Ryan Render from Rendarrio Vineyards and Tonnellerie Saint Martin. The event was capped with a winemaker after party sponsored by Firestone Walker Brewing Company and featuring the rollicking music of country singer Stephen Rowe and his band.

Winemakers who poured at the festival included Aaron Wines, AmByth Estate, Alta Colina, Bodegas M Winery, Brochelle Vineyards, Cayucos Cellars, Caliza Winery, Carlson Wines, Casa Dumetz, Cloak and Dagger Wines, Domaine Degher Wines, Edmond August Wines, Giornata Wines, Grizzly Republic Winery, Ground Effect Wine Co., Hammersky Vineyards, Indigene Cellars, J Dusi Wines, Jacob Toft Wines, Jade Moon, Jalama Wines, JK Wine Company, Kaleidos, Kinero Cellars, La Filice Winery, Les Deux Chats, Nicora Wines, Paso Port Wine Co., Per Cazo Cellars, PiedraSassi, Poalillo Vineyards, Ranchero Cellars, Rangeland Wines, Red Zeppelin Winery, Rendarrio Vineyards, St. Hilaire Vineyard, STANGER Vineyards, Storm Wines, Symbiosis Wines, Tercero Wines, Thomas Alexander Wines, Vin Alegre Winery, Vines on the Marycrest and Westberg Cellars.

Festival sponsors included Windfall Farms, The Krush 92.5 (who live broadcast the event), Glenn Burdette CPAs, Travel Paso Alliance, Paso Press/Vino Magazine, Baker Wine and Grape Analysis, Diablo Valley Packaging, Ethanol Video, 15 Degrees C Wine Bar and Shop, Kirk Consulting, mWEBB Communications, KCOY 12, Vintner’s Vault, La Bellasera Hotel & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, Courtyard Marriott, Sempli Glassware, WineWare Software, Debbie Douglas Designs, XpressFill, Clever Concepts, Joebella Coffee Roasters, Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, The Tasting Panel Magazine, Harvey’s Honeyhuts, Western Square Industries, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Doc’s Cellar, Wine Country Pack and Ship, and Hotel Cheval.

*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,” and is now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world. Click here for more info and proper ‘garagiste’ pronunciation:

To obtain images from the festival, email

About ( is the first and only multi-media site dedicated to the community of emerging underground winemakers. Committed to fostering the spirit of free exchange of ideas and encouragement that has made Paso Robles one of the friendliest, most successful and innovative wine-making communities in the world, PasoGaragiste is focused on the undiscovered and under-recognized artisan producers who are making some of the best, most exciting, handcrafted small lot production wines in the world.

Founded by Garagistes Stewart McLennan, Doug Minnick and Dan Erland Andersen, brings together the artisan wine industry – from winemakers to growers, to equipment suppliers, to wine consumers – in a collaborative and passionate online community. In addition to its annual flagship event, The Paso Garagiste Festival, provides videos, insider info, winemaker forums and access to hard-to-find small production wine.

Media Contact 
mWEBB Communications for
Melanie Webber, melanie(at)mwebbcom(dot)com, (424) 603-4340
Crystal Hartwell, crystal(at)mwebbcom(dot)com, (714) 987-1016

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