PASO ROBLES - The boutique wines were flowing and one could barely hear their own conversation above the raucous crowd at the seventh annual Garagiste Festival over the weekend.
Held at the fairgrounds to a sold-out crowd with 67 wineries, this year was the best attended ever, according to Event Coordinator Michelle Kraker.
“We’ve been doing Garagiste for about five years,” said Carol Hoyt of Hoyt Family Winery. “Oh, it’s a great event with really exciting people who are interested in finding micro wineries that they can’t find anywhere else.”
To be a garagiste, one no longer has to actually make the wine in a garage, but the consensus is that the winemaker has a limited production of anywhere from 250 to 750 cases a year.
“They are the people that are handcrafting everything, that have a hand in everything,” said Ryan Rendar of Rendarrio Wines. “Almost like that organic farmer, farm to table chef that creates a product that is unique and that is truly a ‘one off.’ Most of these guys don’t own their own vineyards. They source grapes and they really work hard at perfecting a certain style of wine that is a great representation of the vineyard that they are getting it from. So they don’t have a lot to show you, they have a small amount but they put a lot of time, effort, energy and love into doing it.”
Stewart McLennan, one of the original founders of the event, said the seventh annual Garagiste Festival was the most successful event to date.
“It’s truly gratifying to see everyone supporting and enjoying our unique festival from the winemakers to the attendees,” he said. “We look forward to continuing the Garagiste Festival for many years to come.”