Garagiste Wine Festival.
The Garagiste Wine Festival, which unites wine aficionados with small-lot winemakers, will return to its Paso Robles roots with a 10th anniversary celebration event Nov. 12-13. (Garagiste Festival courtesy photo)

The Garagiste Wine Festival, which launched in November 2011, returns to its Paso Robles birthplace to celebrate its 10th anniversary with events Nov. 12-13.

The term Garagiste (pronounced “garage-east”) originated in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot winemakers who often worked in their garages.

Click here for tickets. A complete list of participating winemakers can be found at

The weekend’s separate events include Friday evening’s “Rare and Reserve Plus 10 OGs” from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Pavilion on the Lake in Atascadero. More than 30 of the rarest wines and barrel samples the 2021 Paso Garagistes have to offer will accompany a Spanish-themed buffet from Trumpet Vine Catering.

Tablas Creek Winery’s Jason Haas will present “The Past and Future of Paso Robles” from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13 at the Paso Robles Event Center. The seminar is available only with a VIP ticket or weekend pass. Haas is the second-generation proprietor of the pioneering Tablas Creek, which was founded in 1989 by the Perrin and Haas families in what would become Paso Robles’ Adelaida District AVA.

Tablas Creek is also renowned for having imported 19 grape varieties into the United Sates and making them available to the broader winemaking community via its grapevine nursery.

The grand tasting will take place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, again at the Paso Robles Event Center. Attendees will taste from among more than 200 wines poured by more than 50 winemakers, with cheese and charcuterie, artisan food samples and a souvenir wine glass available to ticket holders.

Saturday evening’s after party runs from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., still at the event center. Guests can mingle with the winemakers and dance to live music.

“We are excited to return to Paso Robles and Atascadero with what we believe will be our best festival ever,” festival co-founder Doug Minnick said.

The Garagiste Wine Festival is the nation’s first and only festival to showcase the wines of micro-production commercial “garagiste” winemakers. Dubbed “tasting nirvana” by the Los Angeles Times, the Garagiste Festival is renowned for its renegade spirit with passionate winemakers.

The festival features the wines of commercial garagiste winemakers across California, all of whom produce less than 1,500 cases annually. Since its inception, Garagiste has grown beyond Paso Robles to include events in Solvang, Sonoma and Los Angeles.

“There’s no doubting the last 18 months have been challenging for all of us. What has always been at the core of the Paso Robles wine region, and by virtue garagiste winemakers, is the ability to adapt and innovate,” said Stewart McLennan, Minnick’s co-founder.

The nonprofit Garagiste Events is dedicated to furthering the education of future winemakers and those training for employment within the industry. Proceeds from all festivals support the Garagiste Festival Scholarship fund of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Wine and Viticulture Department.

Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance Honors Bryan Babcock as Vintner of Year

Bryan Babcock, owner and proprietor of Babcock Winery & Vineyards, was named 2021 Vintner of the Year by the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance during the 20th anniversary celebration of Wine and Fire in mid-August.

Celebrated winemaker and farmer Babcock has dedicated nearly 40 years to living and working in the Sta. Rita Hills, where he and his family established their winery and vineyard in the early 1980s. Fueled by passion, craftsmanship and innovation, Babcock has dedicated his career to learning, exploring and experiencing new farming practices, winemaking techniques and grape varieties in order to produce the most compelling, terroir-driven wines from the region as possible.

Babcock and his wife, Lisa, own Babcock Winery & Vineyards, which was founded on the 110-acre property that his parents bought in 1978.

Lisa and Bryan Babcock.

Lisa and Bryan Babcock at the 2021 Wine and Fire paulee-style dinner at Alma Rosa Winery in Buellton. (Greg Brewer photo)

Recognizing the Sta. Rita Hills’ unique topography and climate patterns, Babcock was instrumental in the formation of the appellation’s boundaries and led the efforts to distinguish the region as its own AVA in 2001. Babcock is also known for developing revolutionary viticulture techniques, such as a gravity-assisted vine canopy system that integrates the nature of the vine with the forces of nature in order to maximize wine quality within a system that flows more naturally.

While Babcock is most famous for his pinot noir and chardonnay, he also produces Rhône and Bordeaux-style varietals, as well as a range of unique varietal wines and blends from such under-the-radar grapes as clairette blanche, picpoul and mencia. In addition to producing wines under his esteemed Babcock label, Babcock explores creative winemaking opportunities through the smaller production Eye of the Beholder, Rita’s Earth, Bright Fortune, FATHOM and GrapeHunters labels.

“Great wine starts with the fruit, which in actuality starts with the soil, the climate and the farming techniques,” Babcock said. “I truly believe the Sta. Rita Hills is one of the greatest places to grow pinot noir and chardonnay in the world, and the wines from this region cannot be replicated anywhere else. It has been an honor and privilege to dedicate my career to producing wines from this region, translating the soul and beauty of this unique place into each bottle, and I look forward to continuing my wine journey in this exciting region for many more years to come.”

Folded Hills Winery Names Megan Bravo Wine Club and Logistics Manager

Folded Hills Winery in Gaviota has appointed Megan Bravo wine club and logistics manager. Bravo, who has been with Folded Hills for more than three years, brings a wealth of experience to the role. Previously, she was the winery’s hospitality and DTC manager, where she found her passion interacting with members of Folded Hills’ two wine clubs.

“I started at Folded Hills over three years ago and was their second full-time employee,” Bravo said. “It has been an honor to help build the brand, team and customer base here. I’m so excited to bring my focus back to our beloved wine club members. They are our super fans and amazing ambassadors. I know many of them already, but I’m really looking forward to connecting with many more.”

Before joining Folded Hills, Bravo was the tasting room manager at Brander Vineyards, one of Santa Barbara County’s most esteemed producers of Bordeaux-varietal wines. While working there, she met her husband, Fabian Bravo. He is the winemaker at Brander, and together they have their own small brand, Casita de Bravo.

Folded Hills was founded in 2014 by the Andrew Busch family; Andrew’s father, August “Gussie” Busch Jr., started the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales in 1933. The 15-acre estate vineyard is farmed by Ruben Solorzano of Coastal Vineyard Care, and grows grenache, syrah, grenache blanc, marsanne and clairette blanc. Michael Brughelli makes the wines.

The winery has two tasting rooms — one in Montecito, and the other across from the Folded Hills Farm stand on Nojoqui Falls Road off Highway 101.

Taste of the Vine Raises More Than $200,000 for Diabetes Research

The Sansum Diabetes Research Institute has announced that the 14th annual Taste of the Vine raised $206,625 from sponsors and during its online auction held during August.

Winemaker Paul Lato.

Winemaker Paul Lato was among many Central Coast producers who donated wines, dinners and more to the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute fundraising auction in August. (SDRI / Taste of the Vine courtesy photo)

Despite the pandemic, SDRI remains focused on improving the health and quality of life for men, women and children affected by diabetes. Since its founding in 1944 by Dr. William Samsun — the first U.S. doctor to manufacture and administer insulin in the treatment of diabetes — SDRI has been on the cutting edge of research, education and clinical care.

For the second year, SDRI organized a hybrid event, giving sponsors the option to hold virtual or small, in-person gatherings, with catered meals and fresh produce boxes. Those who purchased tickets received home deliveries of wine, and the online auction took place Aug. 21-23.

Among the items included in the auction were a private winemaker dinner, group tours of various local vineyards, a condo stay at Mammoth, and many lots of wines produced on the Central Coast.

“I am deeply grateful for the generosity from our community in support of the work done at Sansum Diabetes Research Institute through the Taste for the Vine event this year,” said Joan Arnold, board trustee and a Taste of the Vine committee member.

The many wineries and in-kind donors include 101 Wine Tours, Alma Rosa Winery, Au Bon Climat, Babcock Winery, Beckman Vineyards, Bien Nacido Vineyard, Buttonwood Winery, Casa Dumetz Wines, Deovlet Wines, Fess Parker Winery, Fiddlehead Cellars, Foley Estates, GoGi Wines, Grassini Family Vineyards, Grimm’s Bluff, Wes Hagen, Hospice du Rhône, Jaffurs Wine, Kenneth Volk Vineyards, Ledson Hotel, Ledson Winery, Lindquist Family Wines, Longoria Wines, Melville Winery, Christian Menard, Miller Family Wine Co., Paul Lato Wines, Pence Vineyards, Riverbench Vineyard, Rockets Red Wines, Rusack Vineyards, Santa Barbara Vintners, Skyenna Wines, Jim and Amy Sloan, Serenity Farm Wines, Storm Wines, Talley Farms, Talley Vineyards, Verdad Wines, Visit Santa Maria Valley, Windrun Wine Co. and Wine Stone Inn.

— Laurie Jervis tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via The opinions expressed are her own.

Laurie Jervis

Laurie Jervis, Noozhawk Columnist

Laurie Jervis can be reached at The opinions expressed are her own.