I’ll admit it, I bring my wine almost everywhere. I own several chic wine bags that I tote with me to restaurants where the wine list is questionable to my tastes, and I often ship my own wine with me when I travel. Why? Because I consistently seek out and support the wine makers that do not have a tasting room; or if they do, it’s simple and small. Wine sales build wine castles, and you need volume for fountains and marble bars. I don’t want volume, I want the craft. I want to know that the wine I’m drinking is made with love and not a marketing department. Thus, which is why you’ll be hard pressed to find me at a wine festival. Mike Sinor once told me, “The rule of thumb for wine donation is 6% of what you make”. When you are only producing 2 barrels, well, that narrows your margins a bit.
Go ahead…call me a snob. But let me ask you, would you rather have an In n Out burger or a Big Mac? What? What do burgers have to do with this? Simple. In n Out is a regional brand not owned by a corporation, but a family, and still uses the highest grade beef purchased locally. You know you’re eating beef and not fillers, and an assortment of other gross by-products that occur when you throw a cow into a shredder. Same thing happens with wine. Mass produced wine isn’t given the same love and care as small batch wine. Every cluster is hand picked, and treated with a level of respect that you don’t typically find when you are rushing the process. Small batches allow for greater quality control, and well, to be honest, you know that the money you spent on a bottle wasn’t to make someone wealthy- it was to purchase the bottle, the cork, the label, the licensing, the grapes, and the labor.
Enough with my tangent. For I have something to share that excites me even greater than preaching the values of craft booze.
The Garagiste Festival that made a splash in Paso Robles the last 2 years, has branched out and created an event that focuses on my favorite region, Santa Barbara County. Casa Dumetz, Autonom, Tercero, Larner, Nagy, Storm, Ground Effect, among others will be represented at The Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure. The beautiful Solvang Veteran’s Hall will transform on February 16th into the land of the Wine Geek. This isn’t your everyday wine festival. There is no fighting for tastes, and speaking only to Tasting Room staff. No, only 300 Wine Geeks will be present and will be given access to conversate with the actual Wine Maker and enjoy a bit of their liquid gold. All wineries attending produce 1200 cases or less, hence giving them the Garagiste title. We can hardly wait to sit and listen to the great Michael Larner as he brings you the ultimate tasting: a selection of wines made by McPrice Meyers using Larner Vineyard grapes and fermented in barrels of varying oak. Pardon me while I take a moment.
Tickets are available, but very very limited. You may still grab yours on their web page. For Central Coast Wine Bars who specialize in those craft and hard-to-find wines, please visit The Good Life in Solvang and Tastes of The Valleys in Pismo Beach.