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New Tasting Room Opens - Stark and Cartograph at Garagiste Healdsburg

Garagiste Healdsburg, a new tasting room and micro-winery in downtown Healdsburg, is now open for your sipping pleasure. It pairs two small-production wine labels, Stark Wines and Cartograph in a spacious industrial-chic facility that I suspect will become a very popular hangout.

Garagiste Healdsburg opened for tasting on July 30, 2011.

Garagiste is a French term, coined in Bordeaux, that referred to a group of micro-wineries that began cropping up in the 1990‘s. Some of them were literally located in the owners’ garages. True to the name, Garagiste Healdsburg is more than a tasting room. It is a licensed micro-winery — in a building that was an auto dealer's garage some 80 years ago. Wine will be made right behind the tasting bar in a room visible through a large glass window. Garagiste Healdsburg offers tasting pours of all their wines for $5 but sells them by the glass or bottle too. There is plenty of room at the tasting bar, but you can also grab a comfortable seat inside or relax on the front patio.

Christian Stark tends the tasting bar during the pre-opening party for friends and family.

The Stark Wines are made by Christian Stark. Over the past ten years, in addition to making his own wine, he has worked under and/or been mentored by a number local winemakers including David Georges, then of Davis Bynum. A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Christian seeks to make full-bodied, fruit-forward wines that also work at the dinner table. Stark Wines’ current releases are the 2009 Stark Viognier Damiano Vineyard Sierra Foothills, 2009 Stark Chardonnay Windsor Oaks Vineyard Russian River Valley and the 2006 Stark Syrah Teldeschi & Unti Vineyards Dry Creek Valley.

Christian & Jen Stark of Stark Wine at Garagiste Healdsburg moments before the Grand Opening.

Alan Baker and Serena Lourie met at Crushpad in San Francisco where Alan went to work in 2005. After collaborating closely together on a number of wines, Alan and Serena's mutual attractions to wine and each other led them to Healdsburg and the creation of Cartograph in 2009. Alan, the winemaker, strives for balanced Pinot Noir that emphasizes character and complexity and over concentration and intensity. He favors early harvests to preserve signature vineyard characteristics in the fruit and ensure food-friendliness. In addition to vineyard-designate Pinot Noir from Split Rock and Two Pisces, both in the Sonoma Coast AVA, Cartograph offers one white wine. It is the 2009 Cartograph Floodgate Vineyard Gewurtztraminer Russian River Valley, a dry, unoaked wine modeled after the Gewurtztraminers of Alsace.

Cartograph's Serena Lourie & Alan Baker making guests feel welcome at Garagiste Healdsburg.

I like the feel of Garagiste Healdsburg. It is sleek and open, yet friendly. Alan Baker constructed many of the decorative elements himself using parts from an old crusher/destemmer. They visually tie the urban-industrial space together with the craft of winemaking, creating a unique and memorable personality.

A view into the winery/barrel room at Garagiste Healdsburg.

Garagiste Healdsburg offers a spacious tasting area.

Alan Baker made many of the decorative elements, including this chandelier, from a crusher/destemmer.

You can watch the people strolling by on Healdsburg Ave. while enjoying wine on the patio.

Garagiste Healdsburg is located at 439 Healdsburg Avenue, just two blocks north of the square. It is open Thursday through Monday, 11am to 6pm, and by appointment on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Tasting flights are $5. Wines by the glass are $7 for white and $10 for red. Garagiste is also available for private events.

Garagiste Healdsburg is the micro winery and tasting room for Cartograph and Stark Wine.

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This article is original to All photos by Fred Swan. Copyright 2011 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.