Garagiste Wineries - Featuring Dubost Ranch of Paso Robles

Kate Dubost in the Tasting Room
What is a garagiste winery?  The term often refers to folks who make wines in their garages, as they begin winemaking.  There is also a growing movement in California, primarily based in the Paso Robles area, of garagiste wineries.  The website says this:  GARAGISTES – (gar-uh-zhē-stuh) n, Fr. – 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.” Now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world.”

I visited a Paso Robles garagiste winery, Dubost Ranch.  With production capacity now of 1200 cases a year, winemaker Zachary Raines along with owner Kate Dubost (also known as “Mom”) have produced an impressive array of wines since their first vintage in 2003.  All wines are hand bottled, hand corked and hand-foiled.  Talk about a labor of love!
The tasting room - cool place on a hot day!

One of the interesting aspects of Dubost Ranch winery is their commitment to being as sustainable as possible.  The building housing the barrels, equipment, and tasting room is built of bales of rice straw.  This provides a natural insulation, important in the Paso Robles area where the days are hot and the nights are cool.  This temperature variation, however challenging from the storage point of view, makes for great grape growing conditions!

The Dubost 2009 Crianza, Paso Robles, is a blend of 20% Grenache, 40% Tempranillo and 40% Syrah.  “Think of it this way,” said Kate.  “It’s Iberian Peninsula meets the Rhone…but with a bit more acidic tones.”  The aroma is of dried fruit and vanilla, with a subtle hint of oak.  Taste is clean and refreshing, with a nice fruitiness and that acidity for balance.  104 cases produced.  13 percent alcohol. $25 the bottle. 

Their newest release is the 2010 Estate Cuvee.  This Cuvee, of which only 70 cases were produced, is a blend of 34% Syrah, 33% Petite Verdot, and 33% Malbec.  The color of deep garnet gives you an inkling that the aroma will be heady, with cedar, anise, vanilla, cherry cola and a hint of mint.   This wine has a big body, with well developed tannins and a sweet lingering finish.  All fruit was sourced from Dubost’s own vineyards.  16.5 percent alcohol.  $45 the bottle. 

The 2009 Reserva, made with fruit from Starr Ranch Vineyard, Paso Robles, is a fairly tannic wine blended from Syrah and Tempranillo.  Carbonic maceration led to aromatics of coffee and lavender, and a taste of dark fruit and rich oak.  150 cases produced.  17.4 percent alcohol. $40 the bottle.

I also enjoyed their 2010 Carmenere, their Rose, and the 2009 Homestead Red.  Descriptions and prices are on the website, and they’ll gladly ship to you.  Or visit them at 9988 Chimney Rock Road, Paso Robles.  Call for hours 805-226-8463.

Freckles, the Dubost Winery cat

This appeared in June 2014 in my Wine Time column in The Tahoe Weekly

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