Tag Archives: Santa Ynez

2nd Annual “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure” Returns to Solvang…

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

As far as wine festivals go, there’s nothing quite like the annual Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles.  For the last 3 years, super small lot winemakers have descended upon Paso Robles to share the fruits of their labor with crowds of excited wine lovers.

These festivals provide a rare opportunity for wine enthusiasts to taste wines they’ve never heard of before, as well as a chance for artisan winemakers to share their passion – and often their very first vintage – with new fans face-to-face.

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

Over the weekend of March 29-30, 2014, Garagiste Events brings the festival to Solvang, CA with the 2nd annual “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure”.  This year, the festival expands to 2 days and will include an outstanding lineup of high-quality, obscure, low-production wines from the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara County (as well as a few Garagistes from the Central Coast/Paso Robles).

Of the 56 or so winemakers that will be present, half are new festival discoveries, 1 in 4 will be pouring their first vintage, and 80% don’t have a tasting room.  Without these invaluable Garagiste Festivals, so much great winemaking talent would remain undiscovered.

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

This year’s Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure will feature two Grand Tastings, one on Saturday from 2PM – 5PM, and one on Sunday from 1PM-4PM.  Each day will showcase a unique lineup of winemakers.  In addition to the Grand Tastings, each day of Southern Exposure will feature one of the festival’s morning tasting seminars.

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

Kaena Wine Co. at the Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

The Grand Tasting list for Saturday, 3/29 includes:  Archium Cellars, Ascension Cellars, Carucci Wines, Casa Dumetz, Cholame Vineyard, Cordon Wines, Crawford Family Wines, Dubost Ranch, DV8 Cellars, Graef Wines, Ground Effect Wines, Harrison Clarke Wines, Kaena Wine Company, Kessler-Haak Winery, Kita Wines, Larner Winery, Liquid Farm, Luminesce, Moretti Wine Co., Pence Ranch, Press Gang Cellars, Roark Wine Co., Ryan Cochrane Wines, Seagrape Wine Company, Shai Cellars, Tercero Wines, Transcendence Wines, Turiya, and Vinemark Cellars.

The list for Sunday, 3/30 includes:  a-non-ah-mus, Baehner-Fournier, Bradley Family Winery, Brophy Clark Cellars, C. Nagy, Cali Love Winery, Cloak & Dagger, Clos Des Amis, Dascomb Cellars, Desparada, Dilecta, DV8 Cellars, Fontes & Phillips, Frequency Wines, Gioia Wines, Guyomar Wine Cellars, J. Wilkes Wines, La Fenetre Wines, LaZarre Wines, Montemar Winery, Nicora Wines, ONX Wines, Plan B Cellars, Refugio Ranch, Scott Cellars, Solminer Wine, STANGER Vineyards, Weatherborne Wine Co. and Zinke Wine Company.

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

Tickets to the Garagiste events are very limited, so be sure to purchase yours soon.  The Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure is a non-profit event with all proceeds benefiting the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture program.

Needless to say, I can’t wait for the festival and will do a post-fest write-up on my favorite wines.  Hope to see everyone there!

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Highlights from the 2nd Annual “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure”

Foxen Vineyard & Winery…Again.

I realize this is the third time (at least) I’ve written about Foxen Vineyard & Winery, but as I sit here opening up my latest wine club shipment, I feel like a quick post is definitely in order.

Foxen Wine Club Open House

I patiently waited for three long years to be accepted into Foxen’s Anchor Wine Club. Due to the relatively small production at Foxen, wine club membership is limited and waiting lists are often long. But now that I’m a member, I can say without hesitation that the wait was 100% worth it.

As a member of the Foxen Anchor Club, I’ve been enjoying great discounts at the winery and feel like a kid on Christmas every time I receive one of my regular quarterly wine shipments (many of which are wine club exclusives). However, one of my best club experiences thus far happened on February 25th at Foxen’s first ever Wine Club Open House.

Heading into the barrel room at Foxen’s Wine Club Open House

We started our day of tasting at the Foxen shack where we tried a few wines before heading up to the newer, larger winery for the private event. When we arrived, we were led directly into the barrel room – a place that I’ve been dying to see ever since it was built.

Inside the Foxen Vineyard & Winery barrel room…

We signed in, were given name tags and wine glasses, and started our tasting on the east side of the barrel room. As we walked past neatly stacked barrels towards the folding table where a small crowd was gathered, I realized the man pouring was winemaker Bill Wathen.

Foxen’s winemaker Bill “Billy” Wathen

Bill “Billy” Wathen has been lovingly hand-crafting the wines at Foxen from day one. As I walked up to Billy, I have to admit I felt a bit starstruck. I’ve been hearing about the “Foxen Boys” Bill and Dick for years, but I had never met them in the flesh.

I introduced myself to Billy and he poured us tastes of his latest offerings, including a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc – Vogelzang Vineyard, a 2010 Chardonnay – Tinaquaic Vineyard, a 2010 Pinot Noir – Santa Maria Valley, and a 2010 Pinot Noir – John Sebastiano Vineyard.

More views from inside the Foxen barrel room

I truly have never tried a wine at Foxen that I didn’t like and I feel like the Pinot Noir’s that come out of Foxen are unparalleled. Such was the case during this visit. It was such a wonderful opportunity to have the winemaker walk us through his creations.

After we tried the first four wines, we headed to the snack table where we grabbed a selection of cheeses, almonds, olives, meats and chocolates – all of which were a nice complement to the wine. Then we moved on to the west side of the barrel room to finish our tasting.

More views from inside the Foxen barrel room…

On the way to the west end of the room, we bumped into Dick Dore – Bill Wathen’s partner at Foxen and the man behind the slogan “if you don’t know Foxen, you don’t know Dick”. We got a chance to speak to Dick about some of the dinners and events Foxen has coming up – some of which were happening in my hometown just outside of Chicago.

We found that Billy had moved to the west side tasting table, so we were fortunate enough to have him pour our last three tastes – a 2009 Pinot Noir – La Encantada Vineyard, a 2008 Volpino – Santa Ynez Valley, and a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – Vogelzang Vineyard.

The wine list from the Foxen Wine Club Open House

We chatted a bit more and enjoyed our last tastes on a picture-perfect Santa Maria afternoon. I walked away with a couple extra bottles of the 2010 John Sebastiano Vineyard and the 2009 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir’s – both of which were too good for words. If you can get your hands on either bottle, you’ll be very pleased you did. They’re heavenly.

Dick Dore outside the Foxen Vineyard & Winery barrel room

I absolutely loved being part of this wine club event and hope it’s something Foxen does more regularly. I’ve been to several other wine club events, but I’ve never been to one that felt quite so relaxed and personal. It was so nice to meet Billy, Dick, Allyson, Lee and the rest of the crew.

As I open my wine club shipment, I feel like I have an even deeper connection to what is inside and know a bit more about how each wine came to be. I look forward to the next one…

Click here to visit the Foxen Vineyard website.

(business address & tasting room)
7600 Foxen Canyon Road
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Phone: (805) 937-4251
Fax: (805) 937-0415
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 4PM Daily

(foxen 7200 “the shack”)
7200 Foxen Canyon Road
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Phone: (805) 937-4251
Fax: (805) 937-0415