Rotary President Charles Wiggington flanked by Marchale Sellers, event co-chair; Reda Beebe, president-elect; and Kathy Selders, event co-chair, toast their successful event surrounded by a huge crowd enjoying the culinary delights and micro-wineries.
Photos by Henk Friezer

Early returns for the 8th annual Rotary Club’s Taste of South Pasadena known this year as Eats on the Streets Tuesday night is that it was an overwhelming success with more people than ever before swarming along Mission Street and Fair Oaks Avenue in downtown South Pasadena.

The event this year, held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday, featured the Garagiste Festival, a micro-wine movement that’s sweeping the nation.

The Garagiste Festival portion of the Rotary event featured about 15 micro-wineries on display. Many of the small wineries are experimenting with new ways of making wine, sometimes outside the rule book of wine-making, according to officials.

In fact, Garagiste is 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, according to officials with the Garagiste movement.

“Many of these wineries are small,” said Tom Lake, a longtime So Pas Rotary member. “They don’t have tasting rooms and each one has an incredible story.”

Doug Minnick, one of the founders of the Garagiste movement explained it this way.
“Most of these outstanding, cutting-edge winemakers do not have tasting rooms and can’t be found on wine country maps, but you can taste the incredible range of varieties and styles – and meet the winemakers themselves,” Minnick said in an earlier email to The Review. “Founded in 2011, these casual, fun, limited-ticket events – now held annually in Paso Robles, Santa Ynez, Sonoma, and Los Angeles – typically sell out. See for yourself why we were named the #1 Best Wine Festival in America by USA Today, Best Festival by Sunset Magazine, and Top Ten Incredible Epicurean Destination in the world by ABC News.”

The Rotary extravaganza also featured cuisine from eateries and bakeries up and down Mission Street and Fair Oaks Avenue and this year the event had a record-breaking 32 restaurants participating.

 “Last year we welcomed 1,100 visitors to the Taste of South Pasadena, the largest event yet,” Rotary President Charles Wiggington said. “This year promises to be even bigger, with the record-breaking number of both restaurants and wineries. We are so excited to host an evening where people can reconnect with one another, enjoy the outdoors, spend time with their families and meet new people. Proceeds from this fundraiser support local and global efforts including eradicating polio, providing clean water, purchasing books, supporting health programs, and much more.”

Stay tuned to The Review’s website as more information becomes available regarding this event.

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Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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