How many successful new world wineries do you know who started out in a garage? Here`s a short list

I recently read about a garagiste festival coming up in May and began wondering how many new world wineries have made the grade from the garage to the big time.

Im aware of many from Bordeaux and Burgundy where the term originated. GARAGISTES – (garage-east) 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.” But, Im thinking new world here.

After a little research, I came up with a few.

My first and most obvious for me was Burt Williams of Williams Selyem who started in 1979 [acutallly before that, but not under the pretence of the future Hacienda del Rio label which then became Williams Selyem].

Others include:

  • Sine Qua Non- Elaine & Manfred Krankl 1994
  • Walter Hansel & Hansel Family Vineyards- Stephen Hansel, son of Walter 1980s
  • Carr Vineyard- Ryan Carr 1999
  • Woodenhead- Nikolai Stez 1986
  • Red Car- Mark Estrie & Carolyn Kemp 2000
  • Dragonette Cellars- John & Steve Dragonette and Brandon Sparks-Gillis 2003
  • Weir Vineyards- Bill Weir 1993
  • Chehalem- Harry Peterson-Nedry 1990
  • Rhys Vineyards- Kevin Harvey about 1995
  • Fiddlestix Vineyard- Kathy Joseph
  • Et Fille- Howard Mozeico 1984
  • Lost Canyon Winery- Jack States & Randy Keworth 1978

Merus - Mark Herold and Erika Gottl in 1998(?)

Carlisle - Mike Officer in the mid-90’s

Pretty sure Bedrock started in an old chicken coop (2007 was the first vintage). Does that count??

Rich, a chicken coop beats all others. Maybe we start a new thread for all those originating from other than a garage or one for just chicken coops.

I thought Carlisle started out at Siduri? IIIRC, I read that Mike used to head over to Adam’s warehouse before/after work in the beginning before finally changing careers.

One think that strikes me is that there are no examples yet pointed out from the last 15 years. Too hard to make the financial side work these days?

Ha ha! I like it! “What’s the most random place a winery has originated from”.

Blake right in your Santa Barbara backyard is Jaffurs. Craig starting making wines in his house in '89 and had his first commercial vintage in '94.

Does anybody remember the original Folie a deux…barrels were stored inside a house…

ABC was started in a dairy barn with dairy tanks for fermenters.

Matthiasson in 02 or 03?

Didn’t Cakebread start out in jack’s garage in Oakland??

Maybe all the garage bands could play for hi tech companies that started out in garages and garagiste wine would be served…

Maybe not technically a garage, but I remember the first Eyrie winery as pretty much a shed.
My first visit to Lange Winery was in the basement of their house.

P Hickner

The Boeing Employees Wine and Beer Making Club deserves mention for launching the wine making careers of Ben Smith of Cadence, David Larsen of Soos Creek, and Tim Narby of Nota Bene, among others.

P Hickner

More or less true Rama. But I was a large scale (300 cases) home winemaker for 11 years out of my garage. In fact, my garage was like a micro winery. The car never went into it. But since the TTB isn’t going to let you bond your garage (not to mention a whole lot of other reasons), when we went commercial, we needed to produce in a permitted facility. Adam Lee was kind enough to offer Siduri to us for our first two vintages.

Great history lesson. Thanks, Mike.

Michael, when I posted this, I tried to think of locals and came up blank and Im sure there must be a few. I thought of Craig Jaffurs, but my recollection is that he started under Bruce McGuires tutelage at Santa Barbara Winery. I believe he did make beer at home, but I`ll have to check with him about wine. Thanks

Thanks Mel, ABC is one that escaped me and I totally spaced it.

Very cool idea Mel. You organise it and I`ll come.

The story is on his website. He did work at SB Winery as well.