The 3rd Annual Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure is coming to the Santa Ynez Valley March 27-29th. This year, the festival will be held in Solvang and will feature over 60 of the area’s hard-to-find, micro-production commercial “garagiste” winemakers.
The festival will feature smaller, more intimate events beginning Friday, March 27th that include:
Happy Yeast Make Better Wine: an educational (but fun) winemaker symposium sponsored by Laffort, and featuring Cal Poly professor and winemaker Matt Brain of Baker and Brain (5:00 – 6:30pm).
No Repeats: Rare & Reserve Winemaker Mixer: where winemakers bring out the best of their best for attendees, including Club Only, Library and Pre-Release bottles, and compete in the “Big Red Shootout,” a friendly competition in which they blind-taste each other’s wines and vote for the best red in the room. (7:00 – 9:30 pm).
There will also be a Grand Tasting on both Saturday, March 28th and Sunday, March 29th. Each Grand Tasting features 30 different wineries:
Winemakers on Saturday Include: Apical Cellars, Archium Cellars, Baehner Fournier, Bellissimo Cellars, Bradley Family Winery, Brophy Clark, Carivintas Winery, Carucci Wines, Clos Des Amis, Cordon Wines, Cotiere, Crawford Family Wines, Dascomb Cellars, Ferguson Crest, Kessler-Haak Vineyards, La Montagne Winery, Larner Vineyards, Levo Wines, No Limit Wines, Pence Ranch, Press Gang Cellars, Roark Wine Co., SamSara Wine Co., Scott Cellars, Seagrape Cellars, Section Wines, Solminer Wines, Turiya Wines, and Weatherborne.
Winemakers on Sunday Include: Alta Colina Vineyards, Ascension Cellars, Barbieri Wines, Big Tar Wines*, Central Coast Group Project, Center of Effort Wines, Cloak & Dagger Wines, Conarium Wines, Dilecta Wines, Dreamcote Wine Co., Falcone Family Vineyards, Graef Wines, Imagine Wines, J. Brix Wines, J. Ludlow Vineyard*, Mattina Fiore*, MCV Wines, Mount Dorado Winery, Pace Family Wines, Ryan Cochrane Wines, STANGER Vineyards, Tercero Wines, Tierra y Vino, Vines on the Marycrest, Vino Vargas, Wandering Dog Wines, Workman Ayer, and Zeppelin Winery.
Cabernet Franc is a wine that, if made properly, is elegant and beautiful. Broc Cellars nailed this style with their 2012 Central Coast Cabernet Franc. This new release is made naturally with Cabernet Franc from the Central Coast of California and is reminiscent of Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley in France. If you are used to sipping big and bold Cabernet Franc, this wine will make you rethink everything you know about the grape.
The wine begins with an enticing perfume of red fruit and herbs. The palate is juicy and delicious. There are fresh tastes of cherry and cranberry mingled with violet and thyme. Not overly complex, but both graceful and gulpable! (12% alcohol, $22)
I love drinking Matthiasson Wine, but due to the price (their Napa reds are often upwards of $60 a bottle), I generally only enjoy the wines on a special occasion. Given Steve Matthiasson’s recent project called Tendu, this has all changed. Tendu is Matthiasson’s version of an everyday table wine. Made with grapes from less expensive growing regions in California, the wines are both delicious and affordable.
Tendu Red is a blend of Aglianico, Montepulciano, and Barbera. The wine is aged in stainless steel, fermented with native yeasts, and is bottled unfiltered. The nose offers aromas of bright red fruit and a bit of earthiness. The palate is filled with vibrant cranberries, cherries, and raspberries. There are also herbal undertones along with healthy acidity that balance the fruitiness of the wine. So juicy and delicious, you will have a hard time putting down your glass. Brilliantly bottled in a 1 liter size, this wine is perfect wine for a family style Italian meal or burgers! (12.5% alcohol, $19.99, serve slightly chilled)
My experiences with Muscat from San Diego County have been underwhelming to say the least. Overly sweet and poorly made are the most common thoughts that come to mind. When I heard the buzz about what Los Pilares had masterfully created with their Sparkling Muscat, I had to find a bottle.
Los Pilares 2013 LaDona’s Sparkling Muscat is a Petillant Naturel (bottled during primary fermentation, capturing the naturally released carbon dioxide, without the addition of outside sugars). The wine is naturally made with native yeast fermentation and no added SO2.
LaDona’s Sparkling Muscat is mesmerizing in the glass…cloudy and almost reminiscent of grapefruit juice in color. The nose is very floral with hints of ginger and stone fruit. There is an explosion of flavor when the wine hits your tongue. Notes of citrus, passion fruit, and wild flowers are followed by a bitter, dry grapefruit-filled finish. A fantastic Pet Nat and a wonderful example of the potential of San Diego County wine!