For the intrepid few who want to set out to make their own wine on a tiny scale, welcome to the age of the garagiste. For those unfamiliar with the term garagiste, it originated in the Bordeaux region of France in the mid-1990‟s. At the time it was a slightly derogatory term for winemakers who usually purchased grapes from other growers and made small lots of wine in equally small production facilities, which in some cases, were garages. These upstart winemakers were controversial at the time, for breaking out from the traditional chateau model of winemaking and styling their wines more towards the New World examples of rich ripe reds.
In this paper garagiste will refer to any small wine operation, whether it be
someone who has made the transition from hobbyist to selling their wine
commercially, or a well established winemaker, who in addition to their day job making wine for someone else, may be making 1000 ± cases of wine under their own label.
For the most part garagiste has lost any negative connotation it might have once had, and in places such as California, Australia and Chile, such small wine operations have become more than commonplace. The garagiste practice is also alive and well in South Africa and this paper is for all of you out there who are crazy enough to want to set up as a micro-producer.
In this paper I will walk you through the essentials of becoming your very own garagiste. After a brief history of garagistes and meeting myself and the South African Garagiste Movement, we will continue through to the legal requirements and the logistics of setting up a “garage”. A wine making example will be followed by a brief look at packaging and marketing. My words of wisdom before reading any further; it has to be about the passion because the only way to make a small fortune as a garagiste is to start with a large one!