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.

More affordable

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 estate.

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 wines."

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 wine.

·         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. 

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