The Art of Rule Breaking with Justin Warner and Fernando Mora

“We like to say that we went from the garage to Michelin Star restaurants,” laughs Spanish winemaker Fernando Maro. But he’s not joking.

Three years ago, Fernando left his job as an engineer developing wind turbines to dedicate himself full-time to his winery. That winery happened to be located in a garage.

“I am quite new to this business so I question everything,” the 30 year old explains of his process, “And I love Spanish wines but I am just trying to find my own personality.”

Fernando represents a younger generation of people all over the world that are mastering and then breaking the rules of food and drink.

There is much to set Fernando’s Garage Wine apart. The vineyards are spotted with bush vines, rather than the typical linear rows. He ferments the juice in concrete vats, rather than oak or steel – “We are winemakers, not barrel makers,” he says. The former engineer of sustainable energy also began to make the transition to organic practices.

In a country overflowing with winemakers, there are many “big boys” backing large labels, but there are also “many young Spanish winemakers who want to create something different.”

It’s not just Spanish winemakers, either. Justin Warner, Food Network Star and author of The Laws of Cooking: And How to Break Them, never went to culinary school. Once you become familiar with some of Justin’s most popular creations (many of which are featured on thebacklabel) his lack of formal training begins to make a lot of sense. Someone who has been taught to prep and pair avors in a typical kitchen would likely have a hard time coming up with something as outlandish as Justin’s foie gras doughnut.

That doughnut was born not from meticulous planning but from the desire to win an old argument about bread — which we’re pretty sure he won by a landslide. Make no mistake, Justin is fully capable of producing your average fine dining fare, he just takes things a few steps further, much in the same way Fernando picks and chooses from an array of winemaking techniques.

“I use technology when needed, and traditional technique where possible,” Fernando explains, “We use more fragile techniques when they work, but I’m not a hippy.”

As the title of Justin’s book suggests, you have to know the rules in order to break them. But once a knowledge and respect for the old ways has been established, it’s possible to take things somewhere new.

“We just have a dream of creating something,” Fernando says simply, “so we find a way to do it.”

We live in a time where access to technology has made it possible for almost anyone to whip up food and drink with very little training (do you really think your roommate could have made fresh bread without that KitchenAid stand mixer?).

The opening up of the epicurean world to any and all with a vision is exactly what has allowed innovators and rule breakers like Fernando and Justin to become the pioneers they are. These fresh faces are mixing the best of the old with the entirely new to create something so out-there and amazing that we never could have thought it up ourselves. We’re celebrating the people breathing new life into food and wine. The Justins, the Fernandos and all of the new kids on the block.


  • Wow! I’ve been a home winemaker for many years and I didn’t know there was a growing community of like people. I’ve heard the term “garagista” but I wasn’t sure what it meant. I too hope to make wine on a large scale and if the awards I’ve gotten from my efforts are an indication I’m on the right track. All the best to all the rogue winemakers out there! Salud y bien cata!

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