For those that live in and around Los Angeles, my favorite wine tasting event, Garagiste Wine Festival Urban Exposure takes place on June 22nd at the Glendale Auditorium. I prefer this festival because I love to discover the new small boutique wineries that are trying to make a name for themselves. Typically it is their love and passion for wine that comes through in each bottle.
From the corporate world to the artist or the homeschooled experimenting in their back yard, each winemaker has their own story but the common thread, a love for wine. They are so intrigued; they must experience the process of making wine.
Some of last year’s winery discoveries that will be participating this year’s Garagiste Wine Festival include:
Dusty Nabor Wines
The colorful labels brought me over to Dusty Nabor. Based out of Westlake Village, the artwork speaks of the wine within. “The florist” a perfect transition for tasting Viognier. The florals in this wine seem enhanced by what we see on the label. In the case of the Grenache, the “Paper Plane” label colors make me think of the hues that come forth as I sip the wine. I was also impressed with the Rosé a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, and Petite Sirah.
Alex Russan is not new to the wine business because he distributes sherry and owns a Spanish wine import business. The wine that struck my fancy was the Metrick Wines Mourvédre Futernick Vineyard, El Dorado AVA. Think red in a Rosé dress. The grapes are picked early like a Rosé yet fermentation takes place on skins like a red. This wine makes a fabulous summer wine with its lighter and very refreshing demeanor. The wine ages in concrete.
Owner Patrick Kelley’s niche is producing wine from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties. All the vineyards Cavaletti Vineyards works with are within about 109 miles from his home. The name of his wines reflects that mileage. I sampled his first vintages and am looking forward to discovering the achievements of Patrick’s second vintage.
I was particularly impressed with bright, fruity flavors of the 109 Mile Rose, 109 Mile Syrah and the Sangiovese. The latter was my favorite.
Patrick is one of several winemakers who are going back to the roots of Los Angeles winegrowing by showcasing fruit from Los Angeles County and in particular the Antelope Valley.
Byron Blatty Wines
Envision Los Angeles before Prohibition, when vineyards lined the LA River, and this city was the epicenter of the wine industry. Now look forward, and you will get an idea of the vision that Mark and Jenny Blatty have for Byron Blatty Wines. They along with a group of other wineries and winemakers are attempting to bring back the wine expression of Los Angeles County.
The names on the labels of their wines also express Los Angeles. Names like Tremor, Pragmatic, Undertake, Contingent, and Agenda describes what it takes to live in LA. Between earthquakes and traffic, one has to undertake a pragmatic agenda with a contingent plan to get around.
The Contingent was one of my favorites. It co-ferments Cabernet Franc and Syrah from La County to form a wine that has a port like quality. Agenda combines Syrah and Tannat, producing an exciting wine.
The Garagiste Wine Festival Seminar
Both Patrick Kelley, Cavaletti Vineyards and Mark Blatty Byron Blatty Wines will be participating with another winemaker in a seminar designed to educate participants on winemaking in Los Angeles. Los Angeles was one of the first areas in California to grow grapes. Missionaries planted grapes in 1782. This seminar “Garagiste Goes Local: The Rebirth of the Los Angeles Wine Industry” brings us to the current state winemaking in Los Angeles.
Some of my old time favorites showcasing their wines this year at the Garagiste Wine Festival include:
Alma Sol whose tasting room is located in Thousand Oaks but produces wine from Paso Robles.
Ascension Cellars has an excellent palette for blending Rhone varieties.
El Lugar covers the Central Coast; look out Pinot Noir especially Pinot Noir Blanc
Enriquez features wine from the Petaluma Gap. Don’t miss the Tempranillo.
Golden Triangle specializes in grapes from Paso Robles. Try their Tannat.
LXV making seductive wines from Paso Robles.
Marin’s expressing the virtues of wine from the southern portion of Monterey County.
MCV another great winery from Paso Robles.
These are just a few of the fifty plus wineries participating in the 2019 Garagiste Wine Festival Urban Exposure.
Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer was hosted to the wine sampled. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.