man with beer barrels
The Terroir Project combining beer and wine will debut in Los Olivos later this month. Jim Crooks, shown here, is master blender at Buellton’s Barrelworks, which is leading the Sept. 29 kickoff event.  (Barrelworks photo)

This is a monthly roundup of the wine and beer industry’s events and the people who work in the region’s industry.

The Garagiste Festival, launched in Paso Robles in 2011, was recently named the best wine festival in the country in USA Today’s “10Best Readers’ Choice Awards.

The newspaper’s 10Best editors, along with a team of wine experts, picked 20 nominees; the top 10 winners were chosen by a popular vote of readers:

1. The Garagiste Festival — Paso Robles
2. 30A Wine Festival — Alys Beach, Florida
3. Seed Food + Wine Week — Miami, Florida
4. Auction Napa Valley — St. Helena
5. Finger Lakes Wine Festival — Watkins Glen, New York
6. Naples Winter Wine Festival — Naples, Florida
7. Nantucket Wine & Food Festival — Nantucket, Massachusetts
8. Chicago Gourmet — Chicago, Illinois
9. Taste Washington — Seattle, Washington
10. International Pinot Noir Celebration — McMinnville, Oregon

The Garagiste Festival was the first to focus on the American “garagiste” wine movement, one that features winemakers who produce less than 1,500 cases per year.

At its festivals across the state — from Paso Robles to Solvang, Sonoma and Los Angeles — the festival has introduced hundreds of under-the-radar producers to consumers, the media and members of the trade.

“When we came up with the idea eight years ago, we were pretty sure we had lightning in a bottle, but at that point it was just intuition,” said Doug Minnick, who co-founded the Garagiste
Festival with Stewart McLennan.

Via its Garagiste Festival Scholarship fund, the festival has raised more than $125,000 to support the education of future winemakers studying at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo’s Wine and Viticulture Department.

The Garagistes will celebrate the eighth year of hosting events with the one that started everything: The Paso Robles Garagiste Festival on Nov. 9 to Nov. 11.

Joe Padilla gets promoted at Terravant Wine Company

Joe Padilla has been promoted to the new position of SVP of Sales and Operations Planning for Buellton-based Terravant Wine Company, according to Tracey Mason, chief marketing and
business development officer.

Padilla’s promotion follows the company’s goal to reshape itself as a top U.S. wine company within five years. Currently Terravant is Santa Barbara County’s largest winery and bottling
facility and produces several different brands.

“We recognize that in order to achieve our goals, we need to instill a culture of world-class customer, supplier and overall supply chain management,” Mason said.

Padilla, who recently earned an MBA from the Wine Business Institute at California State University, Sonoma, brings more than 25 years of management experience from previous positions, including seven years at Terravant, where, most recently he was vice president of Winery Sales and Business Development.

Before joining Terravant, Padilla developed and managed various business ventures, among them TwoDog Wine, the Trellis Wine Group and High West Distillery.

Alma Rosa Winery appoints new general manager

Buellton’s Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards has appointed Debra Eagle as its new general manager.

Eagle brings 24 years of industry experience to the job, having directed marketing and sales for some of the industry’s largest wine brands, among them Robert Mondavi Winery, Sutter Home
Winery and the exclusive BOND.

Most recently, Eagle served as senior director of Business Development at Vintage Wine Estates, where she was the general manager of BR Cohn Winery in Sonoma Valley, and where she represented the parent company’s Asia and Europe portfolios.

Eagle, a native of Northern California, earned an MBA from the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree from Mills College.


Debra Eagle is the new general manager at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards. (Contributed photo)

She will oversee the construction of a new state-of-the-art winery on Alma Rosa’s 600-acre estate on Santa Rosa Road in the Sta. Rita Hills. In addition, Eagle will help redirect the brand
to an estate and appellation-focused direct-to-consumer operation.

Alma Rosa has just launched private, by-appointment tastings at the historic ranch as an alternative to the urban tasting experience at the existing tasting room on Industrial Way, also in
Buellton. That site opened in 2015.

Alma Rosa was founded in 2005 by Richard Sanford, pioneering Sta. Rita Hills winegrower and Vintners Hall of Fame inductee. Nick de Luca is the winemaker.

Breweries explore beer-wine hybrids

The Terroir Project, seven breweries’ experimental “crossover” between beer and wine, will debut in Los Olivos on Sept. 29.

The event will take place from noon to 4 p.m. at West Ranch, where each of the participating breweries will present their interpretation of a shared recipe that draws from both the grain and
the grape. Guest breweries and wineries will also be on hand with beer and wine to taste.

Tickets are $65 and available online here.

“The Terroir Project is a collaborative experiment into the emergent world of beer-wine hybrids,” said Jeffers Richardson, director at Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks, which is steering
the event. “It’s an exploration into how ‘terroir’ — or sense of place — drives what we taste.”
The breweries hail from the West and East coasts, and from London to New Zealand. Each participating brewery was invited to produce its own distinct hybrid, but with three binding
stipulations: Each had to use the same grain bill; the same maturation period in barrels; and the same co-fermented percentage of wort and wine grapes.

The kicker: All grapes had to be grown within 100 miles of each brewery.
Tickets include Terroir Project tastings from the seven participating breweries: Beavertown (London); Barrelworks (Buellton); Garage Project (Wellington, New Zealand); Jester King
(Austin); Side Project (St. Louis); Sierra Nevada (Chico) and Trillium (Boston). A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Pacific Conservatory Theatre.
Tickets also include tastings from guest breweries such as Russian River Brewing Company and The Bruery, and from guest wineries including Andrew Murray Vineyards, Foxen, Thacher and
Whitcraft. Admission includes a commemorative tasting glass and live music. 

Solvang stomp

An additional event — the screening of the new wine movie Somm 3 — has been added to the lineup of the inaugural Solvang Stomp, a “footie” wine harvest festival that will offer guests the
chance to stomp wine grapes and sample vintages from 25 regional wineries.

Solvang Stomp will take place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, in downtown Solvang on a one-block stretch of First Street between Highway 246/Mission Drive and Copenhagen Drives

The Somm 3 screening will be the film’s premiere in Santa Barbara County. It is the follow-up to both Somm and its sequel, Somm: Into the Bottle, and will start at 8 p.m. at the Solvang
Festival Theater, 420 Second St.

Among the international wine industry members cast in Somm 3 are Steven Spurrier, the man responsible for staging the 1976 “Judgment of Paris;” wine critic Jancis Robinson MW; renowned Master Sommelier Fred Dame, as well as Santa Barbara County’s own Rajat Parr, partner/proprietor of Sandhi Wines and Domaine de la Côte. 

Following the screening will be a Q&A and wine tasting party with cast members and Jackson Myers, producer of the film.

Tickets are $25 general admission and can be purchased online here.

The film premiere is co-sponsored by Santa Barbara Vintners and the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau.  

Solvang Stomp also will feature a I Love Rosé Lounge sponsored by the Chumash Casino Resort; food for purchase inside the festival area from Cecco Ristorante’s gourmet pizza oven
and food trucks California Tacos and First & Oak; a Lucy & Ricky Ricardo Look-a-Like Contest; and live music from the bluegrass/Americana folk band Bryan Titus Trio and 
county/western rockers The Rawhides.

All guests will receive a wine glass and foot towel, plus a raffle ticket to win wine-related prizes. 

A list of participating wineries is available on the website.

General admission tickets are $75 per person, with discounts available for active military. VIP Stompers tickets (limited to 100 guests) are $100 each and include early admission at 1 p.m. All guests must be at least 21 years of age.

Advance ticket purchase is recommended via the website here
The inaugural Solvang Grape Stomp is presented by the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau, with main sponsorship support from Visit Santa Ynez Valley, Chumash Casino Resort and the City of Solvang. Proceeds from both Solvang Stomp and the screening of Somm 3 will benefit the Santa Barbara Vintners.
— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at, 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.