A Weekend in Wine Country

Showed up around 7:15pm on a 7pm start time to the Friday night opening of the 2015 Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure at the Veterans Memorial Building in the Danish town of Solvang, CA.

It was in a side room. I entered through the wrong door but was greeted by smiles. That’s cool. When I was a kid I would get in trouble or get mean looks when I entered through the wrong door.

I left at 9:15pm on a 9pm stop time. Says a lot for the event. I attended Saturday and Sunday’s festivities as well (in the main room). I tasted more wines from at least 45 wineries (30 of them new).

The festival attracts and invites only small producers from the Central Coast. Event organizers Douglas Minnick and Stewart McLennan put on Garagiste Festivals up and down the state. This was the 3rd year in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Santa Ynez Valley Wine Tasting Festival

2015 Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure


Along with incredible small batch wine, there was delicious food provided by Cecco Ristorante, Valle Fresh, and Georgia’s Smokehouse. Freshly prepared charcuterie was omnipresent on the back table.

Saturday, Wil Fernandez of Vintage2014 fame and I arrived around noon and we ordered lunch from Georgia’s Smokehouse food truck then walked to a picnic table to eat. Lee Tomkow of No Limit wines, Danielle Laudon (VisitSYV) and Dillon Ruse (SYV music teacher) joined us.

Wine Tasting Solvang

Joined by Danielle Laudon & Dillon Ruse

Stand out wines for my palate over the weekend were Aaron Whatty’s Big Tar, Paolo Barbieri’s, Barbieri Wines, Fleet Hamilton’s Carivintas, and David Dascomb, Dascomb Cellars. There was a very fun blind tasting for a trophy on Friday evening, the winner being Stillman Brown, and informative seminars both Saturday and Sunday before the tastings.

When Garagiste’s Saturday event ended at 5, it was really just the beginning of a busy evening.

Wine Tasting Los Olivos

Sipping Rosé in rose colored glasses

Next up was the Rosé Soiree at J Woeste in Los Olivos. It was produced by Vino Vaquero of Kaeana Wine. There were Rosé-colored sunglasses, a huge stool for photos, incredible paella, Guitar by Vincent Zorn and 5 Rosé stations set up throughout the garden, Dragonette CellarsBlair Fox CellarsTercero winesBarbieri Wine Company and Kaena Wines by Mikael Sigouin.

Wine Tasting Los Olivos

Rosé Soiree was a huge hit! Almost as big as this chair!

Jefferson Woeste was a great host and it was great to see Maeapple Chaney and Stephanie Varner. A very nice afternoon event. I look forward to the next. But we had to leave for Los Alamos after a plate of paella, visiting with everyone, and having a sip (only a sip) of Rosé.

J. Woeste Los Olivos shopping

Jefferson Woeste & Stephanie Varner enjoying the Soiree

Women in Wine. In Santa Barbara County specifically. Did you know there are at least 40 women wine makers here in the Santa Ynez Valley? That is the reason we were now at Casa Dumetz & Babi’s Beer Emporium – to celebrate these women winemakers with a tasting, small bites, and a DJ.

women winemakers santa barbara county

Celebrating Women in Wine

It’s always great to see the dynamic, energetic, and friendly Sonja Magesteski as well as Jen the beer keep. I ran into Beate Halligan (Executive Director of Los Olivos Business Organization) and we chatted about I don’t remember at length.

The Falcone being poured that night by winemaker Helen Falcone is worth trying.

We ended our long day of “working” at Full of Life Flatbread where we ordered a date & goat cheese pizza along with a memorable bigger than the plate Tomahawk Chop.

All in all a fun, informative, and tasty weekend all over the Santa Ynez Valley appreciating the world class wine that is produced here by world class people.

Santa Ynez Valley EventsAbout VisitSYV.com: Visit Santa Ynez Valley provides listings of the best Santa Ynez wineries, best places to eat in Solvang, Santa Ynez hotels and inns, and things to do in Santa Ynez Valley. Visit the website at www.VisitSYV.com for complete travel and visitor services. “Like” the Facebook page for ideas on planning Santa Ynez vacations. Email info@VisitSYV.com for help planning your next vacation in the Santa Ynez Valley.