Access to these seminars are available only via the premium all-day ticket, which also includes a box lunch, early access to the grand tasting and entry into the Rockin’ After Party.
Update! While some tickets for Saturday remain available as of this (Monday) evening, both Thursday and Friday are sell outs, said Melanie Webber, Garagiste Festival publicist.
The seminars and the grand tasting have relocated to larger digs inside the Ponderosa Pavilion at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds.
Organizers urge attendees to park on Riverside Avenue across from the Fairgrounds’ entrance, enter the grounds via the gate and follow signs to the festival check-in.
The actual address is 2198 Riverside Ave.
The new seminar is entitled “Paso Subdivided into 11 New Viticultural Areas” (or, "East! West! North! South! — What does it all mean?")
It starts at 11:45 a.m. and features Steve Lohr, chairman and CEO of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, and one of many winemakers behind the just-approved addition of 11 new subs AVAs within the larger Paso Robles region. Lohr will discuss winemakers’ research into the climate and soil diversity, and what the new AVAs mean for consumers.
Seminar One starts at 11 a.m., and is “Taste Like a Pro,” with Matt Kettmann, Central Coast wine reviewer for Wine Enthusiast and senior editor at the Santa Barbara Independent, who will lead participants through the process of tasting-to-score and detail how he tackles sampling wines at big tastings.
The third seminar starts at 12:15 p.m, and features three winemakers who left other careers for the wine industry. “Making a Dream Come True: My Second Career as a Vineyard Owner & Winemaker” will include Bob Tillman (Alta Colina Vineyards), Carl Bowker (Caliza Winery) and Victor Abascal (Vines on the Marycrest).
Saturday’s Garagiste Festival Grand Tasting will be my fourth as a wine writer. I participated in the debut event in November 2011, and in both of the Solvang “Southern Exposure” events to date.
I have nothing but praise for the “garagistes” behind the festivals: Stewart McLennan and Douglas Minnick, as well as Lisa Dinsmore and Webber, who carry out the endless behind-the-scenes tasks and publicity, respectively.
At the end of the day, these folks and others on Team Garagiste easily meet their goal: Introducing wine aficionados to Central Coast and California so-called garagistes — the winemakers who produce between 50 and 1,500 cases each year. Most of those pouring have case production of less than 500 cases.
In addition, most participants lack a tasting room, and likely are sharing cellar space with a larger producer. Many still have their “day” jobs: teacher, firefighter or assistant to another winemaker.
During every Garagiste tasting, I discover new producers.
During the 2011 inaugural Paso Robles event, my standouts were wines from Nicora, Ground Effect, Alta Colina and Rangeland.
Last year, during the first “Southern Exposure” festival in Solvang, I first tasted C. Nagy, La Fenetre, Pence Ranch and Roark Wine Co.
And when “Southern Exposure” returned to Solvang this past March, I came away with four new “labels to watch": Sillix Wines, Carucci Wines, Seagrape and Cholame.
Blake Sillix makes 400 cases each year, and his first vintage was 2010. Eric Carucci produces 500 and his first was 2009.
Andres “Andy” Ibarra, former winemaker at Rideau Vineyards and the vineyard manager at the storied La Presa Vineyard in Solvang, makes 800 cases for Cholame Vineyard, which was first produced in 2010.
Karen Steinwachs, since 2007 the winemaker at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Winery, started Seagrape that same year. Case production: 500.
Information and tickets: www.garagistefestival.com