GARAGISTE NORTH: SMALL PRODUCERS WINE FESTIVAL 2019
By Roslyne Buchanan.
Sperling Vineyards in Kelowna was the encore host of the 2019 Small Producers Wine Festival and it was a scorcher. For those who haven’t already fallen under the spell of Garagiste North, let’s back up to the definition as shared on http://www.garagistenorth.com/
“What is a garagiste? (gar-ah-jeest). It started out in France (of course) where it was a derogatory phrase for those avante garde and crazy mavericks making wine in their garage and outside the highly regulated system. Gradually and grudgingly came the acknowledgement that something really interesting was happening with these small case lot artisan wines, and a movement was born.”
The problem is that it’s hard to get your hands on these special small lot wines. The Okanagan/British Columbia solution was formulated when festival organizers Jennifer Schell and Terry Meyer Stone were commiserating about the difficulty in selling wines if you’re engaged in another full-time job, don’t have a tasting room, nor the finances to open a full-fledged winery. It may be fine if you’re satisfied to make small batches for personal consumption. But what if your passion inspires you to share what you’re doing and to seek out what other small producers have created?
Host and editor of iNWine BC, former editor of Food & Wine Trails Magazine, Jennifer is a prolific food, wine and travel writer. She is author of the international award-winning cookbook series: The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine and Cheesemaker featuring the BC food, farm and drink community. Since developing the festival, she has become a Garagiste with her brothers Jonathan and Jamie Schell. Schell Wines launched in 2017 with 57 cases of Chardonnay in collaboration with Winemaker Rob Westbury, also a Garagiste, of Nagging Doubt Wines.
Terry and her husband Andrew Stone farm a four-acre vineyard on Anarchist Mountain, Osoyoos. Together they produce their Anarchist Mountain Vineyard garagiste wine – small lot Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir. With a total production of under 300 cases, they joke about drinking a lot of it themselves. Plus, Terry’s brother owns Meyer Family Vineyards in Okanagan Falls.
Lucky for us, Jennifer and Terry envisioned Garagiste North as a celebration of the artisan winemaker and craft of winemaking. Through their organizational skills, the small guys are brought into focus and on to our radar for the future. Wines produced from 100 per cent Canadian grapes with under 2000 cases total production annually.
Evidence to the growth in the wine industry were new small wineries to experience such as Lightning Rock Winery, Scorched Earth and Burnt Timber. See, I said it was a scorcher.
Other hot producers included Anthony Buchanan Wines – no relation despite the great surname, Black Market Wine Co., Dames Wine, Four Shadows Vineyard & Winery, Giants Head Estate Winery, Lariana Cellars, Marionette Winery, MOCOJO Winery, Origin Wines, Red Bird Estate Winery, Ricco Bambino, Rigour & Whimsy, Tall Tale Wines, and Winemakers CUT. Truck 59 Ciderhouse was also on hand to offer a refreshing switch to cider.
Included, too, was a wine pairing of Sperling Vineyards and cheese, Persival & Young Cheesemongers, music by Glendale Avenue, the CrAsian Food Truck, Riedel The Wine Glass Company, a cool booth by Taste Advisor and a pop-up wine store by Fairview Liquor Store of Penticton to facilitate the purchase of wines tasted.
We missed vinAmite and Kraze Legz this year as they’ve grown and moved on to their own hot new things.
Featured photo: Anthony Buchanan Wines are tasted and compared