Garagiste Festival: Winetasting Seminar

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Want to learn how to taste wine like a pro? Start your Garagiste Festival experience with the fun and interactive winetasting seminar!

If you’re planning to attend this year’s Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles Nov. 9, go all in and get the VIP All-Day or Weekend Pass. Why? Because you’ll be able to attend this fun and interactive wine-tasting seminar on Saturday morning. (Your ticket includes other goodies as well, like box lunch from Jeffry’s BBQ, after party, and more.)

photo Garagiste Festival glasses

Presented by Melanie Webber, who has been part of the Garagiste Festival since its beginning in 2011, the seminar provides a fun and systematic approach to tasting wine. Webber also 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.

We chatted with Melanie about what to expect at the seminar and who it’s for (hint: everyone who loves wine) as well as her insider tips on how to enjoy the Garagiste Festival.

Your seminar is for both newcomers to the wine world as well as those more experienced. What do you hope each group will come away with from the seminar?

Most of all, an enhanced appreciation and greater enjoyment of the wine in their glass!

As with anything, the more you know about a topic, the more you can appreciate it, and, importantly, the more you can relax and have fun experiencing it.

Attendees should come away with some new (or refreshed) tools to help them assess the components that contribute to a quality wine.

Honing a palate can take years, but it starts with understanding how to gauge quality.

And there is a difference between quality and personal likes and dislikes – and this is not about being a wine snob, but about having a system to help you make an objective assessment.  With any luck, quality and personal preference will dovetail and help you find a quality wine you love.

photo of WSET class

Melanie Webber runs and teaches the Paso Robles Wine House WSET Satellite program. If you’d like to expand your wine education, check out her upcoming classes

In the seminar, are you using Garagiste winemakers’ wines, or classic wines of different regions known for certain characteristics?

I’ll be using a variety of wines — a few Garagiste wines, some Old and New World wines, so attendees can taste the factors that impact quality in a range of wines.  We will also be doing a fun, group competitive blind tasting.

photo of wine-tasting crowd at Garagiste Festival Paso Robles

After the seminar as attendees enter the grand tasting event, what’s your biggest tip for tasting -- and enjoying -- wine?

My biggest tip is to take the time...

Let the wine express itself through your nose and tongue. And be sure to take notes on the wines you love and the elements that make those wines, in your opinion, quality wines.

Approach each wine with an open mind. You never know what you’ll discover. At the end of the day, it is all about what you like. For example, I recently found a quality wine in my local wine shop that was very inexpensive. If I had been influenced by the perception that price always equals quality, I would have missed out.

What do you think makes Garagiste wines special and worth discovering?

Garagiste winemakers are passionate and serious about their craft; for them, winemaking is a true labor of love.

Because their production is small, they have the freedom to be innovative, carefully source their fruit, and hand-craft their wines. There’s so much more room for winemaking experimentation for a Garagiste winemaker than if they were making wine for a big label.

Most of the wineries pouring at the festival don’t have tasting rooms and, while most sell direct to consumer online, it can be hard to find their wines. The Garagiste Festival gives wine lovers a unique opportunity to discover them all under one roof – and it is almost always the winemaker who is pouring.

Any tips for tasting at Garagiste Festival? With so many great wines, how do you work the room?

photo of Garagiste Festival team
The Garagiste Festival team. From left: Douglas Minnick, Lisa Dinsmore, Melanie Webber, Stewart McLennan

Great question. We have more than 70 wineries at the Garagiste Festival, so it’s good to have a plan.

Here are a few ways to approach the grand tasting event.

And the guideline of going from whites to roses to reds is always a good approach if you want to try more than one grape variety.

Any closing thoughts?

We believe wine should be enjoyed by everyone, and not be intimidating. We’ve created the Garagiste Festival  — and the seminar — for every level of wine enthusiast.

If you’re new to the wine world, the Garagiste Festival, and the seminar, will not only help you learn more about wine but, most importantly, it  will ensure that you have a great deal of fun while tasting.

photo 805 Wine Country team

And, if you’re an experienced wine aficionado, you’ll get a refresher on what makes a quality wine before you head into the Grand Tasting to make new wine discoveries.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

📸 Photos courtesy of Garagiste Festival

The Garagiste Festival Grand Tasting with over 70 winemakers 

🍷 Main Event  1pm – 5pm
🍷 Saturday Seminar: 11:30am-12:30pm

How to Taste Wine Like a Pro: An Interactive Tasting Experience!

Engaging, educational and unique winemaker panel and tasting seminar.

The seminar is only available as part of the VIP All-Day and Weekend Pass tickets, which also includes a Wine Country Box Lunch provided by local fave Jeffry’s BBQ, early access to the Grand Tasting and entry into the After Party.

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