Someone who thinks small means insignificant has never been in bed with a mosquito…

Garagiste movement peopleI have been absent for quite a while due to a back injury and would like to pick up the pieces (not literally!)…. So this is now my first attempt in a while to write an article on my blog and I thought to perhaps skip the science part this time and write about an interesting wine event I recently participated in. The Garagiste movement’s gala event took place the 8th and 9th of June 2018 at D’Aria in Durbanville, where garagiste wines and craft food were on display. Quite a number of small scale producers participated in the gala event, with interesting names such as Guillaumé, Sonklip, The Garajeest, Doumain Coutelier, De Uitzicht Estate, Osbloed, Terra Do Sul, HO Taljaard, Peter Bayly’s wines, Kronendal, Cape Minstrel and Fibonacci, with my own Collatio wine range featuring as well. There were even an airborne pooch (The Flying Pug wines) in the mix as well!  Most of these small producers do not hold official degrees in wine production (although quite a number has done my garagiste short course at Stellenbosch University), with most of them also not completing extensive harvests in other countries like many commercial winemakers often do. However, three aspects bound them all:

  1. Their love and passion for wine and the wine making process
  2. Producing the wines with their friends/family
  3. Having lots of fun in the process

Some of them made only 50L of a wine, while others produced a few thousand litres.

garagiste wines

Now to make wine in such relative small volumes might sound easy, but it is actually not. The reasons for this is that one cannot blend away certain faults due to the small volumes involved. Often large commercial wineries also have access to grapes of a large number of vineyards and thus have more options to choose their top wine for that specific vintage compared to a garagiste who only make his/her wine from one or two vineyards. Most garagistes also do not own their own vineyards, so have to make do what the vineyard owner supply them with for that specific year. The main mistake I have found in some garagiste wines over the past 15 years were oxidation. This is probably due to the fact that a 5L headspace in a 10000 L tank will not make a large difference, but can be catastrophic for a garagiste making only 50L of wine. I always tell them, oxygen in wine is not too bad, but oxygen on top of wine (open headspace) is looking for trouble (almost like the old Cremora ad, it’s not inside its on top!).

However, the quality of the wines on display at the gala event was in general very good, in some cases excellent! One or two of the wines had a bit of oxidation notes on the nose, but most of them had a good colour and tannin content in the case of the reds. Most of the reds also had quite soft tannin structures, with the one Nebbiolo wine on display having a high, but good tannin structure, typical of this variety. More red than white wines were available, as cooling is not easy for a garagiste, but there were a few interesting whites to taste as well.

To qualify to join the SA Garagiste movement, started in 2002 by Clive Torr and Tanya Beutler, one only needs to produce less than 9000L of wine. So next time you want to make wine at home consider joining the Garagiste movement… Just make sure you have enough friends over to help with the crushing and cleaning afterwards. You can always pay them in a year’s time in wine…

To join the Garagiste movement of SA contact Johan Gilliomee at 0829024917 or email him at

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