Wine innovation begins at Garagiste Urban Exposure

Wiltern Theater Garagiste Urban Exposure

It was a modern marvel when it was built in 1931, but now the Wiltern Theater is a relic of an Art Deco era that is past. Recently the theater hosted the Garagiste Urban Exposure wine tasting that, like the Wiltern’s past, represents the new and innovative winemaking styles that are coming forth from what one might call small avant-garde wineries and owners.

Coda Wines

With its Post Moderne linear label branding, Coda Wines was one winery that exemplified the motif of the Wiltern’s bygone era. Not only is the design reminiscent, but also the winery’s melodic theme reminds us of the popular musical styles of that period, Blues and Jazz. Music was a prominent part of the theater. For winemaker Spencer Daly, music is his utmost passion in addition to winemaking. Spencer feels wine and music go together so much so that each wine is named after the musical term. Spencer began making wine in his family’s Camarillo home garage at age sixteen. Currently, he is the assistant winemaker at Andrew Murray Vineyards in Los Olivos.

Spencer Daly - Coda Wines
Spencer Daly – Coda Wines

Starting with the 2014 Overture Sauvignon Blanc, one is enthralled with the crisp light tropical flavors of this wine. The wine is not like your typical grassy and herbaceous styled Sauvignon Blanc that typifies this region. It is more elegant with subtle hints of the green herbs. It is the perfect introduction to Coda Wines.

Coda’s 2014 Medley is a composition of three distinct grapes, Grenache, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc. These three blend together to create a marvelous Rosé with flavors of watermelon and strawberry.

The 2013 Sonata Sangiovese sings praise to this varietal. The fruit comes from a private vineyard that Spencer manages, and the wine is bright with flavors of plums.

The Syrah grapes for the 2013 Cadence are also farmed by Spencer at Starfire Vineyard. Unique to this wine is that 50% of the grapes are foot stomped. The wine aged 20 months in equal percentages of new and neutral oak. The wine is bright with flavors of dark fruits, blueberry, and blackberry.

Unique to Coda, Spencer not only makes suggested pairings of food to his wines, but he also suggests music to compliment the wine.

For Spencer, music and wine represent the ultimate in creative expression. As Spencer says, “Wine and music enjoyed better with good company and friends, so please, grab a glass, tune in and enjoy Coda Wines!”

Coda Wines - Garagiste Urban Exposure
Coda Wines

Theopollis Vineyards

One must meet Theodora Lee, owner of Theopolis Vineyards, a boutique winery in the Yorkville region of the Anderson Valley. Her strong, energetic presence is enthralling because you know she loves what she is doing with her wine. Perhaps some of this comes from her background as a lawyer, where she must take charge to get the best results. It certainly comes through in her wines. The winery’s name Theopolis comes from Theodora’s Greek name. She is affectionately known in the business as Theo-Patra, Queen of the Vineyards, a name that befits her commanding performance.

Theodora loves to be a little different in her approach to wines. With her vineyard planted with Petit Sirah, one can surmise that her focus is on that variety. Beginning with the 2014 Estate Rosé of Petit Sirah, this wine will excite any Rosé lover. Aromas of Roses and flavors of cherries make the wine exceptionally pleasing to the palate.

Probably the most unusual wine at the event was the 2013 Symphony. The Symphony grape is a cross between a Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris. The wine is very aromatic with tropical flavors.

Finally, there was the 2012 Estate Petite Sirah with its rich black fruit flavors.

Theodora Lee - Theopolis Vineyards
Theodora Lee – Theopolis Vineyards

Ser Winery

Ser Winery from Santa Cruz featured a 2014 Orange Muscat from the Ventana Vineyards in the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County. Most people think of sweet wine when they think of Muscat, but I found a very light dry wine with flavors of orange and almond. The meaning of Ser in Spanish is to be and winemaker, Nicole Walsh commits to “preserving the being of wine.” The Orange Muscat makes a statement of its being as a unique and different wine.

Valley Floor Vineyard

Valley Floor Vineyard represented Napa, and the wines that owner, Ellen Duane presented were fabulous. The grapes come from their 4.5-acre vineyard in Calistoga that they discovered in 2007. The 2014 Estate Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon is very fresh with flavors of strawberry and watermelon. The 2012 and the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon displays the rich, wonderful flavors of currants and blackberry.

Maidenstoen Wine

Michael Callahan is the winemaker at Maidenstoen Wine. He is also the assistant winemaker at Chamisal Vineyards. He specializes in Riesling. If you like dry Rieslings, this is a winery not to miss. Michael is very adept at creating what you might consider some of the best Rieslings in California.

After discovering Maidenstoen last March at the Southern Exposure Garagiste, it was fun to sample Michael’s latest vintage and find they were as good or perhaps even better than the 2013s. The 2014 LaFond Vineyard Riesling was bright and balance. Sampling the 2014 Coastview Vineyards, which is in the Santa Lucia Highlands as well as the 2104 Zabala Vineyard Riesling from the Arroyo Seco, shows the consistency of all Michael’s wine. They both display a crisp, bright, and refreshing quality.

Mattina Fiore

Mattina Fiore, owners, Scott and Andrea Williams also owns a grocery store in Shell Beach. Both their 2014 Saignee Rosé and the 2014 Albarino, Paragon Vineyard, were aromatic while the Rosé composed of Syrah and Grenache exuded a bright luminescence.

Other Favorites

New and what I called revolutionary in blending were some wines produced by favorite wineries of the past:

Alma Sol’s 2012 Sagrado, a luscious blend of Syrah, Viognier, and a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon to round out the deep flavors. Making a statement that emphasizes the Rhone styles of Paso Robles with the winery’s take of a Côte Rotie from northern Rhone Valley, it is a bold yet soft velvety wine.

Alma Sol
Alma Sol


One cannot go wrong with C.Nagy wines 2014 Rose of Pinot Noir or the 2013 Pinot Noir Garey Ranch.

Kessler-Haak debuted his 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, a light yet flavorful wine. I want to revisit in 6 months or so to see how the wine develops.

Additional Garagiste Urban Exposure Wines

Other wines worth mention is the Caliza Winery 2012 Syrah, the Carucci Wines 2012 Viognier, White Hawk Vineyard, Alta Colina Vineyards 2014 Grenache Blanc, Diablo Paso 2014 Albarino, Edna Valley, Moonwalker Cellars 2012 Clover Creek Syrah, Rendarrio Wine 2011 Town Crier White wine, 2011 LPF Cabernet Sauvignon.

Discovering and celebrating the innovative artisan winemakers that are making their statement on the California wine scene is what The Garagiste Festival represents. The winemakers featured at Garagiste Urban Exposure definitely made their mark.