What is a Garagiste Winemaker Anyway?

5/31/2018


Maybe you’ve heard about our Garagiste Wine Club or perhaps you’ve seen posters or events for Garagiste Wine Festivals, but do you actually know what a Garagiste is? Simply put, it’s the most exciting winemaking revolution in decades and growing stronger every year.

Those of you who are serious wine connoisseurs or who live in Wine Country may be familiar with this movement, but it’s much more than just a title or a label. It’s now quickly becoming a full-blown cult. Technically, Garagiste is described as:

“(gar-uh-zheest)´ noun 1. A French Term used to describe independent, artisan winemakers handcrafting small batches of wine on their own and not yet discovered by the mainstream.”

Now, that sounds dandy and all but many of you may be thinking...so what? Why should I care that the winemakers are ‘independent’ or the wines are made in ‘small batches’? Well, the short answer is: you just SHOULD!

As you may know, France is a country with very strict laws in place about their wines and winemaking. Most wines produced in France are done so under a château or vineyard name and must adhere to the laws put in place for winemaking techniques, blends, grape varietals etc.. However, we all know at least one person who just doesn’t seem to like rules...

So, for those who didn’t want to follow the rules and had the longing to create their own wines, did so independently from the established châteaux or vineyards. No strict laws, no regulations, just a passionate winemaker, a bunch of grapes and an excitement to create new possibilities for their wines. The nature of these independent winemakers is that while they had the freedom to be innovative, they didn’t have the space, machinery or quantities to produce wine on the same level as their larger neighbors, and in many cases this was a very good thing. It lead to extremely small batches of handcrafted wines, but done so with the utmost attention to detail.

Oftentimes these small productions were discredited by the larger, more traditional wineries, saying the winemakers were unworthy of attention due to the fact that they didn’t have a château name and were essentially “making wine in their garages”. Hence the word Garag-iste.

But that obviously backfired and similarly to labeling New Zealanders “Kiwis”, the growing number of Garagiste winemakers embraced the name and continued making their wines full of character and finesse. The idea of independent winemaking has been around for a long time, but more and more of these minuscule operations in the US are picking up the name and embracing the Garagiste moniker.

Are you more intrigued now?

Lets put this into perspective. On average, some of the largest wine producers in the US churn out over 500,000 cases per year. Large - medium sized wineries might release a minimum of 50,000 cases, while medium - small wineries could bottle a minimum of 5,000 cases. You could go further by describing boutique wineries having a production of between 1,500 - 5,000 cases...and then there’s Garagiste winemakers. Clocking in at a minuscule production of less than 1,500 cases annually.

These gorgeous, small-batch wines are skillfully crafted by experienced winemakers who are calling all the shots and putting their hearts and souls into each bottle made. Many of which may fill their own bottles, stick the label on themselves, or hand-dip every bottle for an elegant wax seal. Essentially everything from start to finish is a labor of love. The hard part, however is making their wines known, which is why you can’t find them in your wine store down the street, or on the shelves of your grocery store. Nope, they are under-the-radar wines and are typically sold directly to consumers and/or are only found in the local region where the wine was made — if you’re lucky.

It is for this reason alone...and because the wines are amazing...that we decided to create our Garagiste Wine Club, focused solely on these extremely rare and unique wines. But we don’t just buy any small-lot wine. The wines we feature in the Garagiste Wine Club and all of our Wine Clubs are held to a very high standard — a rock-solid standard built over the past 26 years. So you know the wines we choose to feature to our members are selections worthy of your attention.

If you enjoy finding wines that have not been discovered yet (who doesn’t?) or if you’re now curious what all the hype is about, our Garagiste Wine Club is a sure bet.

Cheers!