The fact that Paso Robles has emerged as California’s leading “Rhône Zone” can be attributed in no small measure to the efforts of Mat Garretson. This former Atlantan was already a fan of Syrah, but it was his introduction to Viognier that opened his eyes to the entire spectrum of this exotic family of grape varieties. "In 1982, a fellow retailer gave me a bottle of wine labeled ‘Condrieu’ as a birthday present," recalls Garretson. "I wasn’t too impressed...until I opened the bottle." That bottle sparked an obsession so complete that Garretson is often referred to as ‘Mr. Viognier’ by his fellow winemakers.

Garretson Wine Company’s focus is solely on crafting the best Rhône wines possible. In honor of the couple’s shared heritage, each wine features some manner of Gaelic-inspired reference. "You may not be able to pronounce the names," admits Garretson, "but remember, you don’t pronounce wines. You drink them."

While over the years Garretson has been no doubt instrumental in bringing fellow wine drinkers into the Rhône wine fold, he still feels a strong sense of obligation to keep spreading the word. "If I hadn’t been given that bottle of Condrieu so long ago, all of this may never have happened," he insists. "That one bottle led me to California, led me to a wonderful woman and an incredible family...not to mention all of the friends I’ve gained along the way. Just think: perhaps a bottle of one of our wines might just have the same affect on someone somewhere. That would be the finest honor we could hope for."

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