More than 70 artisan “garagiste” winemakers will pour their wines at the only festival devoted to the smallest-of-the-small producers — many of whom produce just one or two barrels.

California’s Garagiste Festivals debuted in Paso Robles in November 2011, and two years later expanded to Solvang via “Southern Exposure,” held in late March at the Veterans Memorial Hall. This year a third Garagiste festival, “Urban Exposure,” debuted in Los Angeles on July 12 at Union Station.

2014PasologoFor the return of the flagship event in November, more than 70 artistan winemakers will pour their wines. Of those, more than 50 hail from the Paso Robles area, and 90 percent of those pouring do not have tasting rooms.

Despite its growth and prominence among aficionados of fine wine, founders of the Garagiste Festival stay true to their roots and continue to direct a share of proceeds to the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Program in San Luis Obispo to support future winemakers.

Garagiste (“garage-east”) is a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate small-lot wine producers who often produced wine in their garages. Today the term is used to describe those who produce some the best wine in the world — just in small lots. The annual Garagiste Festivals limit participation to winemakers who make less than 1,200 cases per year.

For the upcoming Paso Robles event, which has relocated this year to the Ponderosa Pavilion at the Fairgrounds, organizers have added new events; click here http://californiagaragistes.com/2014-paso-fest/

Returning from previous years are “Shiners, Samples and Secrets,” where winemakers share barrel samples and other rarities; the “Opening Round,” which spotlights garagistes from Northern California; two wine tasting seminars; and the festival’s signature “Rockin’ After Party. All events will take place in Paso Robles or at the historic Carlton Hotel in Atascadero.

After their successful foray into Los Angeles, the co-founders and organizers of Garagiste Festival are eager to come home, so to speak, to Paso Robles.

“This has been a banner year for Garagiste Festival — a greatly expanded and sold-out Solvang event, and our premiere festival in Los Angeles (also sold out), and now a new and more central venue for our Paso festival, with four days of our most popular events returning,” said Doug Minnick, co-founder of the Garagiste Festival with Stewart McLennan.

“And while we are offering wine lovers even more opportunities to taste these fantastic wines, we continue to keep our attendee to winemaker ratio low because we believe that one-on-one interaction is the best way to make new wine discoveries … and it is what our attendees expect."

Sign up for The Dirt at http://garagistefestival.com/sign-up/, or follow Garagiste on Twitter (@GaragisteFest) or via Facebook, where organizers offer profiles of participating winemakers in the weeks leading up to the festivals.

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for centralcoastwinepress.com