Garagiste wines

By Barbara Keck · 


Owner Kate Dubost

What is a garagiste winery? The term often refers to folks who make wines in a garage, as they begin winemaking. There is a growing movement in California, primarily based in the Paso Robles area, of garagiste wineries.

The term originated 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,” according to

I visited a Paso Robles garagiste winery, Dubost Ranch. With production capacity now of 1,200 cases a year, winemaker Zachary Raines along with owner Kate Dubost (also known as Mom) have produced an impressive array of wines since the first vintage in 2003. All wines are hand bottled, hand corked and hand foiled. Talk about a labor of love.

One of the interesting aspects of Dubost Ranch winery is its commitment to being as sustainable as possible. The building housing the barrels, equipment and tasting room is built of bales or 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 percent Grenache, 40 percent Tempranillo and 40 percent 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 for the bottle.

The newest release is the 2010 Estate Cuvee. This Cuvee, of which only 70 cases were produced, is a blend of 34 percent Syrah, 33 percent Petite Verdot and 33 percent 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 by 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 for the bottle.

I also enjoyed the 2010 Carmenere, the Rose, and the 2009 Homestead Red. Descriptions and prices are on the Web site at, and they’ll gladly ship to you. Or, visit them at 9988 Chimney Rock Road in Paso Robles.


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Barbara Keck
Barbara started writing for newspapers when she was 14 and continues to write, most recently the “Wineries of the Sierra Foothills” book published by Range of Light Media, parent company of The Tahoe Weekly. Barbara wrote the wine column for the Weekly for many years, and contributes occasional tidbits on tourism and entertainment topics. A long marketing consulting career that included extensive international travel led her to conclude that Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Almost 20 years of enjoying the seasons on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe has confirmed her belief.