It might not seem like the most natural fit to combine wine enthusiasm with the sensibilities of independent rock music, but for almost twenty years Garagiste, started by Seattle native Jon Rimmerman, has been doing just that. Taking its name from a subculture of passionate French winemakers who create limited production, artisanal wines—sometimes within their own garages—Rimmerman’s unique and somewhat controversial business model has focused on being a friend to the wine consumer above all else. The company has no investors or board of directors, puts no money into advertising, and maintains no physical storefront. It operates within the three-tiered model but is not beholden to wholesalers or other retailers, essentially cutting out most of the middle-men.
Rimmerman views wine as “an adventure,” and true to that philosophy, he seeks out smaller and little-known wine producers, many with innovative approaches to organic farming. Rather than maintain an online store or catalog, Garagiste members will receive an email offer for his discoveries. The offer can sometimes sell out within minutes, and once it is gone it may never return…fortune favors the swift! Wine shipments occur twice a year, and Garagiste is very particular about making sure that all wines (and food, which they also sell) are stored properly until they can be sent to customers.
Beyond its retail system, however, and its penchant for finding new wine, Garagiste also aims to be an online community of aesthetes, discussing not only wine and food, but also arts, culture, and philosophy. Rimmerman loves wine drinkers as much as he loves wine; he relishes the opportunity to converse with them and wants Garagiste to be a place where they can all speak to each other.
If the community and passion of Garagiste excites you, give them a closer look and see if you’d like to join in…they would love to have you not just as a customer, but as a participant!