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Garagiste Wine Festival reports sell-out four years running 

garagiste-festival-2014JPOver a thousand wine enthusiasts and winemakers participated in the four-day Paso Robles Garagiste Festival this weekend, which lived up to its description by the Los Angeles Times as not only “one of the premier wine events of the year,” but also one of “wine’s best parties.” Organizers report the event, held at the Paso Robles Event Center, was sold-out for the fourth year in a row.

The Paso Robles event, which is one of three Garagiste Festivals held across California each year, was also recently dubbed “Best Festival” in Sunset Magazine’s ‘Best of the West’.*

“The sold-out 2014 Paso Robles Garagiste Festival is further proof that the American garagiste movement is one of the hottest trends in the wine industry, and that Paso Robles is its heart and soul,” said Garagiste Festival co-founder Doug Minnick. “We are proud to be the only event in the country to shine a light on so many extraordinary artisan winemakers under one roof – all while offering wine lovers a ‘no snobs allowed’ atmosphere in which to sample innovative wines crafted with passion, a healthy respect for tradition, and an even healthier respect for breaking the rules.”

This year’s Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles included four days of tastings, as well as seminars from Steve Lohr, CEO of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, and Matt Kettmann of the Wine Enthusiast, among others. A new highlight this year was the festival’s first (but not last) “Big Blend Shootout,” a friendly competition in which over 20 winemakers blind-tasted each other’s wines and picked out the best of the best (as well as attempting to identify their own blends among the brown-bagged wines, which the majority were able to do). The winner was Bret Urness from Levo Wine, for his Grenache, Syrah, Petite Syrah, and Viognier blend.

“It was a great night that epitomized the camaraderie among winemakers in Paso Robles, and the fact that, while winemaking is a lot of work, it is also a lot of fun, especially after the long harvest,” said McLennan.

The Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure will be held March 27th – 29th at the beautiful mission-style Veterans’ Hall in the heart of Solvang. The weekend of events will showcase the wines of over 60 artisan garagiste commercial winemakers who produce under 1,500 cases per year from the Santa Barbara region and the Central Coast.

The non-profit Garagiste Festivals benefit the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture program.

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About the author: Publisher Scott Brennan

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.