Forget country vineyards. The cool kids are all making urban wine in the midst of metropolitan chaos. From Portland to Los Angeles, winemakers are proving that wine doesn't have to be made in the traditional, bucolic vineyard setting. If you have the know-how, can get good grapes and construct a decent set up, even if it's in a garage, you can make wine.
Like your white wine to have an undertone of artisan? Then you'll fit right in at the upcoming Garagiste Wine Festival in Los Angeles. A celebration of small-scale, artisan vintners, the July 12th festival will welcome more than 40 winemakers and winery owners, all of whom produce fewer than 1,500 cases a year.
According to the festival's website, Garagiste is a "term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their garage, who refused to follow the "rules.'" In the U.S., you can liken it to the rising popularity of the craft beer movement. Individuals doing things just a little differently than the big names in the business.
But wine has always been a little different than beer. A home brew set up seems far less intimidating than a home winemaking set up. There are many that are up for the challenge though, and if you want to see them all in action, to Los Angeles you must go. As the Garagiste Festival puts it, this is "the cutting edge of small production winemaking with no rules."
No rules? Great. Who wants rules when they're drinking wine anyway?
It's no surprise that such a movement would take off in the US. For one, we like our independence, and the chance to do things differently and challenge the status quo is a chance that shouldn't be turned down. Secondly, we love our wine. In fact, we're now ahead of France as the largest wine consuming nation, accounting for some $36 billion a year.
So if you love your white wine, or your red wine, or your bubbles, but you want to ensure you're getting the funkiest, edgiest wines, keep a lookout for all those unknown names, that will hopefully be coming to a tasting room near you. And for those in LA: put the urban wine extravaganza: the Garagiste Festival on your calendar. Because these days, it's cooler if no one knows the name of the winery that's marked on the bottle. Small-scale, big taste, good story. That's what the garagistes are all about.
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Image: John Morgan