Press Release – 12/04/12

2012 Garagiste Festival Hosts Over 1,000 Attendees, Raises $10,000 for Cal Poly

Over 48 ‘Garagistes’ poured over 30 varietals over 4 days of events; Amy Butler of Ranchero Cellars Wins Second Annual “Spirit of Garagiste” Award

Paso Robles, Ca – December 4, 2012  The Garagiste Festival announced today that it is donating $10,000 from proceeds raised at the 2012 Festival to the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Program.  The festival also announced that Amy Butler of Ranchero Cellars has been awarded the second annual ‘Spirit of Garagiste’ Award. The sold-out festival, held November 8th – 11th, in Paso Robles, featured over 48 ‘garagiste’* winemakers pouring almost 150 wines and over 30 varietals.  The festival hosted over 1,000 attendees, from across the US and the globe, over its four days of events.

The Garagiste Festival, produced by Garagiste Events, is the first and only festival dedicated to discovering and promoting artisan ‘garagiste’ winemakers and showcases high-quality, cutting-edge, small production wineries that produce fewer than 1,200 cases a year.  The festival was named one of the ‘Top Nine Incredible Epicurean Vacations’ in the world by ABC News.**

“Garagiste is now a full-fledged movement, gaining attention across the country and the world.  With 70% of our attendees from outside SLO County, including from over 13 states from New Jersey to Georgia….and as far afield as Australia, it is clear that the Garagiste Festival has become the nexus for the movement and the place to discover these extraordinary, but hard-to-find winemakers,” said Garagiste Festival Co-founder Doug Minnick.  “This year’s sold out events – and our tasting series leading up to the festival – provided wine lovers the opportunity to not only get acquainted with some of the best small-lot, handcrafted wines this nation has to offer, but also to meet the winemakers who make them.”

The 2012 Garagiste Festival featured a winemaker dinner with top chef Ludo Lefebvre, held at Thomas Hill Organics; a winemaker mixer at the tasting room of last year’s Spirit of Garagiste award winner, Vines on the Marycrest, as well as seminars on Syrah and emerging varietals; a winemaking symposium held at Vintner’s Vault, and over 48 high-quality, cutting-edge, small production wineries pouring at the festival’s Grand Tasting at Windfall Farms’ Stallion Barn.

“In addition to bringing attention to these remarkable winemakers, one of the things that makes us most proud is that, for the second year in a row, we are able to donate $10,000 to Cal Poly’s Wine and Viticulture program — a world class wine program that we believe represents the future of winemaking in this country,” said Garagiste Festival Co-founder Stewart McLennan.

“And we could not be more excited to present Amy Butler of Ranchero Cellars with the second annual Spirit of Garagiste Award. Amy runs her winery essentially as a one-woman show, hand-crafting some of Paso Robles’ best wines. Amy was chosen for her style, her passion, her habit of flying in the face of conventional wisdom to make wine the way she wants to — and, of course, for producing extraordinary wines.  Amy truly represents the rebel spirit of the garagiste movement!”

The Spirit of Garagiste Award is dedicated to the winemaker who best exemplifies the do-whatever-it-takes spirit of the small-lot winemaker (or garagiste), while also producing excellent wines.  Butler, who was featured in the festival’s Emerging Varietals seminar, operates Ranchero Cellars, which is named for her 1960 Ford Ranchero and is committed to making small batches of wine using unique varietals and time-honored methods. Amy is famous for her ability to wrestle Carignane – which has a reputation as a ‘wild and uncivilized’ varietal – into the bottle with extraordinary results.  Viognier is another favorite of Butler’s, which she produces both as a blend and on its own.

“The dedication of the Garagiste Festival team to winemakers like me is remarkable. Garagiste promotes and celebrates what my business is all about, and I am honored to have been chosen as the recipient of this award – recognition for excelling in exactly what I have been striving for,” said Butler. “Having the opportunity to pour side by side with 47 others like me at the festival was truly rewarding.  By raising awareness of Paso Robles in general, and specifically of its small, artisan producers, we embody the spirit of cooperation that is unique to our community.  Thank you Garagiste team so much! I can’t wait to go to next year’s festival!”

Said Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Dean James Cooper of the $10,000 donation:  “We are so grateful to the festival for this generous donation.  Thank you Garagiste Festival for exemplifying the best of our industry, including its innovation, excellence and passion.  This was one of the best, most exciting wine festivals I have ever attended, and we were especially pleased to be pouring Cal Poly student wines at the festival for the first time.  This donation will be put to excellent use helping us produce wine industry professionals who will continue to ensure that the US leads the world in winemaking.”

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.  Plans for the Program include further development of a teaching varietal vineyard block, research and development of stress-tolerant grape rootstock, and the design and construction a new campus winery for both winemaking research and the commercial production of the Cal Poly Wines.

The Garagistes

Winemakers who poured at the 2012 Garagiste Festival included 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.

The Sponsors

Sponsors for The Garagiste Festival include: Barnett Cox and Associates, Cass Catering, Clever Concepts, Central Coast Tent and Party, Coast Packaging and Supply, Crystal Springs Water, Distinctive Glassware, Harvey’s Honeyhuts, 15c Wine Shop & Bar, Firestone 805, Glenn Burdette, KCBX, KCOY/KION, Kirk Consulting, Krush92.5,KSBY-TV, La Bellasera, La Quinta Inns and Suites, mWEBB Communications, Paso Robles Wine Country Association, Safe Haven Wine Services, Sempli, Tasting Panel Magazine, The Paso Oaks Hotel, The Wine Down on TheLip.TV, Travel Paso Alliance, Vintner’s Vault,  Windfall Farms, Wine Country Pack & Ship and XpressFill.

*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 herefor more info and proper ‘garagiste’ pronunciation.

For festival images contact

About The Garagiste Festival

The Garagiste Festival ( is the first and only wine festival dedicated to the undiscovered and under-recognized artisan ‘garagiste’ producers who are making some of the best, most exciting, handcrafted small-lot production wines in the world. The Garagiste Festival was named one of the “Top Nine Incredible Epicurean Vacations” by ABC News**.  Founded by fellow garagistes Stewart McLennan and Douglas Minnick, the Garagiste Festival is 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. The festival is 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 2011 and 2012’s sold-out festival are donated to the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Program.

**ABC News Online, May 31, 2012:

Media Contact:

mWEBB Communications for The Garagiste Festival
Melanie Webber,, 424-603-4340
Crystal Hartwell,, 714-987-1016