Tag Archives: Alma Sol Winery


The grand finale of the Garagistè Festival is the Grand Tasting, featuring around 70 wine makers who produce 1500 cases or less of their wine in a year. The festival, with newer branches in Solvang and Los Angeles each year, is a great opportunity for these small producers to become known.

This year’s Grand Tasting was held at the Paso Robles Fairgounds in the Frontier Town area. The wine makers were arranged in a figure-eight configuration with a few vendors at the center. There were some wine makers who have been to all five Garagistè Festivals in Paso and some new this year.

The overall quality of the wines presented has greatly improved over the years, as wine making techniques have improved across the board. At the first Garagistè Festival that I attended in 2010, about 20% of the wines were good or better. Today, that figure is closer to 60%.

Garagiste Photo
The Garagistè Festival logo artwork.

The Grand Tasting runs from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, with VIP ticket holders who also attended the morning seminars (LINK TO POST) getting first crack for an extra hour from 1:00 to 2:00. The scene gets louder as the day goes along – there are a lot of rookie wine drinkers here who don’t know how to taste, or don’t care, so a few drunks are about by 3:00 or so.

I will point out some of the better wine makers (IMHO) in the photos – also see the post on the Friday Night Wine Makers’ Mixer (LINK TO POST) for the best from that evening, almost all of whom were also at the Grand Tasting.

2015-11-07 14.50.01
Broken M Wine’s Karl Wicka. He and his wife, Heidi are owner-operators of this very nice operation.

Missing Leg’s Website: (LINK)

Stewart McLennan of Golden Triangle Wines - one of the Festival's coordinators.
Stewart McLennan of Golden Triangle Wines – one of the Festival’s coordinators.

Golden Triangle Website: (LINK)

Michael Rose of Michael Rose Cellars.
Michael Jones (and Rose?) of Michael Rose Cellars.

Michael Rose Website: (LINK) 

Paul Quinn & James Schreiner of TW Ferm Comany Wines. Cabernets only!
Paul Quinn & James Schreiner of TW Ferm Comany Wines. Cabernets only!

TW Ferm Co Website: (LINK)

2015-11-07 15.39.18
Amber Bierworth pouring Two Moons Rhone-style wines.

Two Moons Website: (LINK)

And our friend John from Alma Sol Winery was there again, pouring his amazing Bordeaux Blends and  Cabernet Sauvignons.

2014-08-09 18.44.38

Alma Sol Winery website: (LINK)

The Garagistè Festival is a great event, one that I highly recommend. If you want to discover the up and coming and the intentionally small wine makers of California’s Central Coast and beyond, this is your ticket.


This article from the LA Times website, pointed out by our friends @AlmaSolWinery via Twitter, speaks to the issue of corkage fees – something that people often find confusing. A corkage fee is a fee that you pay at a restaurant when you bring your own wine. It normally includes glassware, opening and pouring the wine by the sommelier or server, and disposal of the bottle.


Wine - Cork or Screw Cap


Dorianne and I returned to Alma Sol Winery’s tasting room the other night with three other couples. Alma Sol Winery (Link) is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of John Shaw and Lisa Cuevas Shaw.

2015-01-16 19.00.34
The heading of the tasting list at Alma Sol Tasting Room in Thousand Oak, CA

John Shaw, who serves as winemaker for the couple – really a two-person operation, from the vineyard to the tasting room – met us at the door. Lisa Cuevas Shaw was inside with a bottle of wine in her hand. We began the evening’s tasting, which John had selected from his list of Bordeaux-influenced wines.

“It’s a cool evening,” he said, “so it’s all reds and all full-bodied wines.”

The wines he poured were indeed, red and were generally fuller bodied wines as well. The exception was the first wine, a 2010 Cuevas Cabernet Sauvignon, which was very elegant and a fruit-forward wine. After that, the wines had more of a mineral presence and varied as to the fruit presence. I won’t go into detail, because these wines are produced in such small quantities that they are very unlikely to show up outside of the tasting room. You can obtain some of them at the website (link above).

We first met John and Lisa at the Paso Robles Garagiste Festival a couple of years ago. They told us that they would be opening a tasting room in Thousand Oaks – our neck of the woods – very soon. The location is shared with Sunland Vintage Winery (Link), whose mostly Italian varieties we plan to return to sample soon. Alma Sol, using mostly grapes from the Cuevas Vineyard in Paso Robles and other fruit sourced from Paso and as far north as Napa Valley. In fact, we tasted a blend of five Napa Bordeaux-style grapes in the tasting – it was made in a middle ground between the French and California styles –  fruity and elegant, but higher in alcohol.

We finished the tasting with their dessert wine: 2012 Almazan Dessert Wine, Paso Robles ($34.00)

From their website: This Portuguese Port-style wine uses both Tempranillo and Touriga Nacional grapes from the east side of Paso Robles.  The beautiful nose is made up of cherries and cranberries and follows through with a very fruit forward, elegant mouth feel. The finish is long with a touch of fortified wine that lightly warms your mouth. This wine pairs great with your favorite dessert, Dark chocolate raspberry truffles, or a cigar (if you like them, of course).

Production: 70 cases   

We bought a bottle. Very nice!


It is really nice to see more tasting rooms open in the Thousand Oaks area. Alma Sol is a great addition to the local line up – I look forward to seeing how John and Lisa continue to develop as winemakers.