Garage wine – neighbours

We have very nice neighbours in Betty’s Bay. One of them, Johan, is always busy with some project, building, sawing, hammering away – well, you know. Johan’s sleeves are always rolled up, he is a man of the world, urbane, studied and talks with the speed and power of his lawn mover which he uses to keep his lawn down so the snakes which feel at home on our property do not come to nest on his side. But our neighbourly touch is very good. Maybe on account that we do not see each other often. Johan and Bernadine are often away and so are we and so it comes that we do not see each other for weeks. Sometimes we invite each other for a meal, but in moderation.
Bernadine’s personality is just as sparkling with an intellect full of lovely irony and a sharp sense of the humorous side of things that is simply charming. She pops in every now and then and brings us lovely goodies: fresh herbs, thick fat rasins and sultanas from her parent’s farm on the Orange River near Upington, beetroot, green figs which she preserves herself – no mean feat – and plants. And once she mended Walter’s gardening jeans. She loves to sew and like her spouse always has a project of kinds. In return we bring her heritage seeds from France or an apron from a wine farm in Provence.
They have two grown up daughters, one of whom works as a cellar master on a wine farm in Elgin. And now we are approaching the point: Johan has just started making his own red wine in his garage. That does not make him a garagiste in the French meaning of the word, but then, that is not what they are after. The old Boer spirit of adventure and pioneering and an irrepressible spirit of enterprise still runs strong in their veins.

Malbec grapes in open fermentation before pressing and transferring the juice to a barrique and/or glas vessels. Johan of course bare feet.

“Malbec is a variety of purple grape used in making red wine. The grapes tend to have an inky dark color and robust tannins, and are long known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine. The French plantations of Malbec are now found primarily in Cahors in the South West France region. It is increasingly celebrated as an Argentine varietal wine and is being grown around the world.” (Wikipedia)


Johan, Bernadine, Colleen und Bernhard, our other neighbour. On the right in the background the lovely little wine press!

This one is already full.
The garagistes refers to a group of innovative winemakers in the Bordeaux region, producing ‘Vins de garage’, ‘Garage wine’. A group emerged in the mid 1990s in reaction to the traditional style of red Bordeaux wine, which is highly tannic and requires long ageing in the bottle to become drinkable. The garagistes developed a style more consistent with perceived international wine tastes.
For red wines this means “bigger, bolder, fruitier wines, often with sometimes a higher alcohol content.” The new style for white wines is a more pronounced oak taste with some residual sugar. This new style of wine is controversial, and purists claim that the wines will not age well and they don’t reflect well the terroir of the region, nor the typicity of the grape varieties used. Characterised as “winemaker’s wine whose attributes reflect a disregard for the traditional handling of its particular terroir“,[1] the term is sometimes used somewhat as a backhanded compliment, in light of that these wines come from previously unknown estates without proven track record or pedigree. …” (Wikipedia)

Johan and Bernadine are far removed from such ambitions. What they have in mind is having friends and neighbours around at a barbecue and to lift a glas of home made wine into the sky and just marvel at what nature and friendship gives us!

With love
Colleen & Walter
Betty’s Bay, Sunday April 10, 2011

German version: