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While half of the upcoming “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure” is already sold out, some tickets — for the Sunday grand tasting and the new pizza/wine pairing dinner Friday — remain available as of this morning.

However, if you’re on the fence, don’t dawdle: Whatever else you may want to do March 30 can wait until another day.

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure returns to the Solvang Veterans Memorial Hall Saturday and Sunday, March 29 and 30, and once again, all proceeds will benefit the Wine & Viticulture Department at Cal Poly.

Last year’s inaugural one-day event sold out, and, despite adding a second full day for the 2014 festival, “we expect to sell out this year, too,” said Garagiste co-founder Doug Minnick.

Tickets: Saturday’s Grand Tasting sold out days ago, but a few of the VIP tickets (Signature Tasting Seminar plus Grand Tasting) remain. Tickets for Sunday’s Grand Tasting are still available, as are Sunday’s VIP tickets and the Friday evening pizza/wine dinner, Webber told me this morning.


Before their first Garagiste Festival, November 2011 in Paso Robles, Minnick and co-founder Stewart McLennan “did the ground work,” tasting wines from garagiste-style winemakers.

In fact, “before us, this event did not exist,” McLennan noted.

In other words, these two men, garagistes themselves, did the footwork for their events’ guests, meeting producers and sampling wines.

Show some gratitude: During Garagiste, introduce yourself to either of these gentlemen, or to co-organizer Lisa Dinsmore, or veteran Garagiste publicist Melanie Webber, and say “thank you” for the introduction to wines you’re unlikely to have otherwise discovered.

The roster has nearly 30 winemakers to pour either Saturday or Sunday — not both. (See below for the list by day). Only winemakers who produce fewer than 1,500 cases per year can participate — and the majority of them make less than 500 cases.

New this year is the Friday, March 28, Pizza/Wine Pairing Event, which will take place at Cecco Ristorante in Solvang and kicks off the weekend’s festivities.

Friday will feature 11 winemakers pouring their wines alongside Chef David Ceccini’s wood-fired pizzas, handmade pastas and more. Time: 6:30 to 9 p.m.; Cost: $39 plus tax.

Winemakers pouring Friday evening are Archium Cellars, Calilove Wines, Kessler-Haak Winery, Larner Winery, Montemar Winery, Press Gang Cellars, Scott Cellars, Solminer and Vinemark Cellars.

Pouring only Friday will be Sforzando Wines and De Su Propia Cosecha.

Nearly half of the winemakers who will pour at the event are first-time Garagiste Festival participants, and 13 of those will pour their very first vintage. In addition, most of these uber small-lot winemakers don’t have a tasting room. A few of the names I saw listed don’t even have websites

Here’s the list by day; first-time participants bear an asterisk (*):

Saturday: Archium Cellars*, Ascension Cellars*, Carucci Wines*, Casa Dumetz, Cholame Vineyard, Cordon Wines, Crawford Family Wines*, Dubost Ranch*, DV8 Cellars*, Graef Wines*, Ground Effect Wines, Harrison Clarke Wines, Kaena Wine Company, Kessler-Haak Winery, Kita Wines*, Larner Winery, Liquid Farm, Luminesce, Moretti Wine Co.*, Pence Ranch, Press Gang Cellars, Roark Wine Co., Ryan Cochrane Wines, Seagrape Wine Company, Shai Cellars, Tercero Wines, Transcendence Wines, Turiya* and Vinemark Cellars*. 

Sunday: a-non-ah-mus, Alta Colina Winery, Baehner-Fournier, Bradley Family Winery*, Brophy Clark Cellars*, C. Nagy Wines, Calilove Winery*, Cloak & Dagger, Clos Des Amis*, Dascomb Cellars*, Desperada*, Dilecta Wines, Fontes & Phillips*, Frequency Wines, Gioia Wines*, Guyomar Wine Cellars*, J. Wilkes Wines, La Fenetre Wines, LaZarre Wines, Montemar Winery*, Nicora Wines, ONX Wines, Plan B Cellars*, Refugio Ranch, Scott Cellars*, Solminer Wine*, STANGER Vineyards, Toretti Family Vineyards*, Weatherborne Wine Co.* and Zinke Wine Company*.

The Signature Tasting Seminars:

From 11 a.m. to noon Saturday will be “Rhones Rule: The Wines of Ballard Canyon,” featuring Mikael Sigouin (Kaena), Michael Larner (Larner Vineyards and Larner Winery) and Larry Schaffer (Tercero Wines).

From 11 a.m. to noon Sunday will be “A Pinot Noir Primer from the Roots Up,” featuring Joshua Klapper (La Fenetre), Clarissa Nagy (C. Nagy Wines) and Adam LaZarre (LaZarre Wines).

For more information on The Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure, go to http://garagistefestival.com

Twitter: @GaragisteFest or Facebook

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