Edible Skinny was lucky enough to attend the largest gathering of California’s micro-production winemakers a few weeks ago at The Wiltern with the Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure.
Garagistes (garage-east) 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. The Garagiste Wine Festivals, which first exposed the American garagiste movement, are the only wine events that exclusively showcase ultra-premium, cutting-edge, micro-production commercial wineries that produce fewer than 1,500 (and many under 800) cases a year. These are the up and coming rock stars of viticulture, the ones who are crafting with their passion for the art of wine.
The Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure was 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 the festivals are donated to the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Program.
In addition to its flagship annual festival in Paso Robles, CA, the Garagiste Festival line-up includes Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure, featuring Santa Ynez Valley garagistes; the L.A. based Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure; garagiste mini-tastings presented from So Cal to Tahoe; and winemaker dinners. The festivals were named one of the 'Top Nine Incredible Epicurean Vacations' in the world by ABC News, "one of the premier wine events of the year," by the LA Times and “Best Festival” by Sunset Magazine’s 'Best of the West.
The Wiltern was quite the fitting venue for the rock stars of winemaking all gathered together under its spectacular art deco roof. With over fifty artisan garagiste winemakers pouring over 200 wines, this year's festival featured winemakers from across California, including Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez and SLO counties, Napa and Sonoma counties, and Paso Robles. Artisanal LA was added to the celebration with a mini pop-up of a sampling of their best artisan food producers offering tastes of their healthy, local, sustainable and delicious edibles.
“We have always felt that finding undiscovered winemakers is like discovering a new band in a club before they have a hit record, so The Wiltern’s, which is considered one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the United States, rock and roll history is a perfect fit for these renegade, under-the-radar winemakers. Plus, it is a stunning place,” said Doug Minnick Co-founder of The Garagiste Festivals. “And, as our fans know, a really cool venue is an integral part of the garagiste experience.
Among the over 50 winemakers Edible Skinny’s favorites at this year’s tasting at the Garagiste Festival included CODA, El Lugar Wines, Last Light Wine Company, Levo Wines, Rendarrio Vineyards, and Ryan Cochrane (some more info on these particular wines in an upcoming ES post!).
So big or small, here’s to life being delicious, and to rocking out!