Wine Culture Magazine

From renegades to revolutionaries, this wine movement is here to stay

Leave it to the French to take a word as banal as “garage” and seduce us with a simple flick of the tongue: garagiste. It is a wine term you have likely heard before, though its definition is elusive.

It all began in the 1990s in Bordeaux when some winemakers, feeling smothered by regulations, defected to make wine on their own terms out of their garages. The wines were fittingly deemed “vins de garage” and their makers “garagistes.” To some, they were rebels and their wines disparaged; to others, they were revolutionaries making inspiringly avant-garde wines.

Over the years, the term has ebbed and flowed in popularity, trending upwards after a high score from a prominent critic, and trending down after others dismiss it as a fad. But this fad has planted some serious garagiste roots the world over.

Garagistes are hands-on, small-production winemakers (they often don’t own vines, and work out of a wine co-op or, yes, an actual garage) and they have a die-hard passion for crafting authentic wines.

That said, the parameters of garagiste are undefined. Is it production-based (under 500 cases or 5,000 cases)? What if they grow bigger? Do they follow minimal-intervention or natural-winemaking philosophies? Must they actually be located in a garage?

So let’s skip the definition since no one likes to be boxed in a category these days and just call it a spectrum. And on a spectrum, the possibilities are limitless.

If you are curious about garagistes in British Columbia, you’ll be pleased to know we are a haven. Okanagan Crush Pad and BC Wine Studio are two co-op-style facilities that foster small production wineries; Meyer Family Vineyards hosts the custom crush for Mireille Sauvé’s charity project Les Dames wines; Kitsch winemaker Grant Biggs works out of an actual 1,000-square-foot garage (though he makes an astounding quantity of wine there). We also have Garagiste North, a B.C. garagiste wine festival (August 18).

There are so many options, so keep the conversations flowing and you’ll find yourself naturally parked in this delicious culture.


Little Farm Winery Blind Creek Vineyard Rosé 2017 (Cabernet Franc)
(Similkameen Valley, $22): Dry, juicy strawberries, savoury sage, stony minerality.

A Sunday in August Pinot Noir 2017
(Similkameen Valley, $27): Bright, crunchy cranberry; funky, savoury mushroom.

Chic Fille Pinot Blanc 2017
(Okanagan Valley, $30): Skin-contact Pinot Blanc? Zest and texture baby!

Kitsch 7 Barrel Chardonnay 2017
(Okanagan Valley, $40): Sensual, creamy, baked apples and lemon, spicy vanilla.

Anthony Buchanan Wild Ferment Brut 2017 (Riesling)
(Okanagan Valley, $22): Apples, citrus zest, and buttered toast.

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