I love wine. Most people who know me know I love wine. But more than the actual drink, I love the friendships and conversations built around wine. Years ago I liked nothing more than cheap beer and football (don't get me wrong, I still love both) which created a lot of male friendships and loud party times but there's something about wine that creates a different atmosphere. It's been a form of bonding with my female friends and having wine nights began nourishing amazing friendships.
For my birthday last year I decided to have a wine day and go wine tasting with three friends and we were hooked. Not only was it delicious and fun, but it was a day of great conversations and building one another up in a world where women usually tear one another down. We decided to try to make these wine days a regular occurrence when we could.
So when my friend Jenna told us about the Garagiste Wine Festival in Paso Robles we were in! A road trip, a B&B style hotel, and a wine festival were the perfect combination for a wonderful ladies trip! I had no idea what to expect but it sounded like the makings of a great Monica Goes episode so after contacting the festival and making the arrangements we were off!
Now as much as I love wine, I am no aficionado. About the only difference I can tell is red, white, dry, or sweet so I was nervous to go to a festival full of people who knew everything about wine. The Garagiste Festival turned out to be the perfect place to go for both wine connoisseurs and newbies like myself.
The term Garagiste comes from the french term for garage and was used to describe rebel winemakers who refused to follow the tradional wine-making rules and created their own versions in their garages. Now, this "anything goes" method of wine-making has become a movement and Garagiste celebrates these small-production renegades.
The Garagiste Wine Festival is a two-day event that takes place every November in Paso Robles, California and was founded by Stewart McLennan and Douglas Minnick five years ago. This amazing event is the only one of it's kind to showcase Garagiste's who typically make 1500 cases of wine or less each year. For someone like me (the casual wine drinker) it was a great opportunity to get face to face with over 40 different wine-makers and learn about their process and passion.
Paso Robles is about 3 hours north of Los Angeles and located in San Luis Obispo county. The town is known for it's hot springs, wineries, olive production and has an array of beautiful places to stay. We stayed at the bed and breakfast style Adelaide Inn. This beautiful hotel was perfect for a relaxing trip. They offer fresh fruit in the morning and cookies in the afternoon, have a beautiful pool and spa area, and the most adorable picnic area with a table swing! We walked to the grocery store behind the hotel, got all the best wine-fixin's and spent an afternoon swinging on the picnic table and enjoying the hot tub before heading to the event.
There is something about wine events that while enthralling, sometimes have the perception of being pretentious. Maybe that is my own insecurities of not knowing how to "taste correctly" or what terms like "woody" or "aromatic" mean but it makes me nervous nonetheless.
The Garagiste Festival was an entirely different world of people who were simply excited to share the wine they made. It had a small-town family atmosphere where winemakers sampled one another's and shared their own methods and processes. They encouraged each other and were genuinely excited to be there. I learned about different grapes that I'd never heard of, never felt judged for not swishing the wine enough, and even met a winemaker who coming to these events as a wine enthusiast encouraged him and his wife to start their own production. It was inspiring, fun, and definitely delicious. While only getting to experience night one made it hard to leave, I can already tell this will be an annual girls weekend that I look forward to every November.