Garagiste Wine Festival

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Wine Festival

Discover the exciting wines of small, artisan producers at the 9th Annual Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles, California

📍 Paso Fairgrounds/Event Center
🍷 Event page

Why you’ll want to go

Whether you’re just starting to explore the world of wine or you’ve got a full cellar of prime vintages, Garagiste Festival has so much to offer you. 

If you’re new to wine, it can be intimidating to look at all the choices at a wine store and know what to pick. You don’t want to risk a big bottle price on something you don’t like. 

And if you’re developing your palate and eager to try new varietals or styles, you may be tired of the usual wines available with larger distribution. Where can you find some new wines and talk with winemakers taking a different approach?

The Garagiste Festival fills both needs. Here, you can taste a wide range of varietals and styles and find wines you enjoy. You can talk to the winemakers and learn more about their process and. You can find great under-the-radar wines at great values to put in your cellar.

Plus, many of these wines are available nowhere else. A lot of Garagiste producers, who make on average of 1,500 cases or less each year, don’t have tasting rooms and they aren’t on tasting maps.

All of this in an event that is designed to be serious about the wine but casual, friendly, and never too crowded.


What's a Garagiste?

(Click to flip)


The term “Garagiste” was first used in the Bordeaux region of France to describe small-production winemakers who created wines (sometimes in their garages, hence the name) without the limits imposed by the region as to grapes, styles, and techniques. And it wasn’t used in a flattering way.

Today, thanks to the vision of co-founders Stewart McLennan and Douglas Minnick, the Garagiste Festival keeps growing and helping wine lovers discover and celebrate the small winemakers who are making great wine driven by talent and passion.

What to Expect

As Garagiste Festival co-founder Douglas Minnick explained, this is not a serious wine event (as in formal, snobby, pretentious).

“But it is an event serious about wine. These winemakers are making incredible wines. They’re passionate about sharing their wines and meeting people who enjoy them. They love sharing stories and information about their approach.”

Minnick and co-founder Stewart McLennan created the Garagiste Festival to encourage conversations and highlight small wineries. “It’s why we keep the guest to winery ratio low, so you have the opportunity to talk with winemakers. And there’s rarely a long line. If you want to talk with a winemaker and he or she is busy, go taste another wine and come back in a few minutes.”

The event kicks off Friday night, November 9, with an event focused on rare and reserve wines. It’s an opportunity to taste wines that are extremely limited. The evening also includes dinner (and vegetarian option).

Saturday’s full-day wine experience starts with an interactive educational seminar at 11:30.

“How to Taste Wine Like a Pro: An Interactive Tasting Experience!” will be led by Melanie Webber, and includes a tasting components exercise, a take-home tasting grid, tasting/assessment of six wines and a collaborative blind tasting.

Webber runs and teaches the Paso Robles Wine House WSET Satellite program, and holds the WSET Diploma in wine and spirits and the French Wine Society “French Wine Scholar” certification.

Saturday’s Grand Tasting event starts at 2:00, and will showcase more than 70 small-production and hand-crafted wineries. Early Entrance and VIP tickets are also available. (See Tickets link below.)

The Story Behind the Event

Founded in 2011 by garagistes Stewart McLennan and Douglas Minnick, their initial inspiration for the event continues. “We knew some small wineries doing a great job and liked them very much, and we wanted to spread the word about them.”

No one had done an event gathering together small winemakers, but they felt it would work. “We didn’t really know what we had, but our instincts said it was a good idea and we wanted to help shine a light on what these winemakers were doing.”

Since that first small event, the Garagiste movement has spread far and wide, gaining more recognition and support each year. Today, with more than 600 wineries in their database, Garagiste Festivals are held in four locations each year: Santa Ynez/Solvang,  Los Angeles, Sonoma, and Paso Robles.

Garagiste Festival co-founder Stewart McLennan (photo courtesy Garagiste Events)
Garagiste Festival co-founder Douglas Minnick (photo courtesy Garagiste Events)

Past Event Photos

About 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. In 2018, it was named one of the Top Nine 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 California one of the friendliest, most successful and innovative wine-making regions in the world. As a nonprofit 501(c)(3), the organization funds three scholarships each year for students of Cal Poly’s Wine & Viticulture program. To date, they’ve awarded $125,000 to more than a dozen students.

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