Do it Yourself
Clive on being a Garagiste
Clive Torr in his small cellar in a suburb of
Somerset West in the Western Cape.
Besides being a highly creative
process, it is great fun to make a barrel of wine. JACQUES CLAASSEN helped Cape
Wine Master and garagiste Clive Torr to make Pinot noir in Burgundy, France,
and interviewed him afterwards in the Western Cape.
After training as winemaker at Elsenburg in the Western Cape, Clive Torr
had a brain wave: to make his own wine on small scale as most families do in
Burgundy, France. Torr visited Burgundy from 1991 to 1994 while writing his
Cape Wine Master's thesis on Pinot noir.
In 1996 he obtained 400kg Pinot noir grapes in Elgin in the Western
Cape, which he used to make his own wine at home - and so he pioneered the
garagiste movement in South Africa. At the time, he lived in the aptly named
Chateau ("castle" in French) Street in Courtrai, Paarl.
At the same time Cathy Marshall, another pioneer of the South African
garagiste movement, organised a grape-stomping session in the parking lot at
Muizenberg beach, and founded the Barefoot Wine Company. Nowadays, Torr lives
in a suburb of Somerset West near Cape Town, where he has a small vineyard in
his backyard and a small cellar housing barrels and winemaking equipment.
Because he makes organic wines, he rinses the tanks on the lawn and the stems
and skins go back into the vineyard.
He and his busines partners also run a small cellar and
garagiste school at the original garage cellar,in somerset west. Making
wine at the school is a great solution for garagistes who don't want to rent
cellar space and encounter all the legal and registration costs that bona fide
winemakers have to pay, according to Torr.
Investors set up a similar operation in Burgundy, and Torr was asked to
run the wine-making part on their behalf. Clearly inspired by the French he
says that their habit of cultivating white cultivars on white soils and red
cultivars on darker soils dates back to the Roman era. Burgundy boasts
twenty-six sites for the world's greatest Pinot noirs and six for the best
Chardonnays; this region is home to some of the world's most expensive real
The world's most expensive Pinot noir is produced on only 2,4ha. It
retails at 3 000 to 4 000 Euros per bottle and comes from the vineyards of
Domaine Romanée Conti (DRC). For more than 800 years, it has consistently
achieved the highest price per bottle, worldwide.
When asked why his wine is so perfect, Aubert de Villaine, owner of DRC,
told Torr: "The monks looked after these vines for many centuries -
selecting only the strongest plants to use for propagation. As with animal
husbandry, selecting breeding stock can lead to higher quality production.
Anybody who's willing to put in 800 years of work, can make the same excellent
Make your own red wine (March/April)
We invite you to make your own
red wine with Clive Torr . Torr is an international wine expert
and one of South Africa's most renowned garagistes.
crushing grapes, using a registered cellar and wine
equipment under Torr's guidance.
Bottling and packaging costs.
Every participant gets 12 bottles of his/her own
A winemaker's certificate.
A barbecue lunch and a game of boulle.
Wines for tasting during lunch.
Participation in the bottling party/alternatively
delivery of your wine.