South Africa’s University of Stellenbosch is responding to the current trend in ‘garagiste’ winemaking by offering a course in home winemaking.

The university will begin the lessons in two month’s time, and Wessel du Toit, the course teacher, expects around 20-30 non-academics to attend his evening classes.

The course is aimed at those who produce wine from 20 to 1,000kg of grapes and includes such vital aspects of home winemaking as ‘crushing, de-stemming, pressing and juice treatments’, ‘ageing of oak in wine barrels’ and ‘additives which can be added to wine’.

The budding ‘garagistes’ (a French term for cult winemakers who produce highly expensive wines in tiny quantities) will each pay ZAR1,000 (€120) for the 5-day evening classes.

Du Toit believes there is a demand for this kind of subject.

‘If I look at the response I’ve got from all over South Africa, then it seems that a need exists for something like this,’ he said.

The university currently runs a 4-year BSc agric course in Viticulture and Oenology. Du Toit is careful to insist that the home winemaking course is for professional, working people who are interested in making wine at home.

‘The number of “garage winemakers” has increased drastically in the past few years,’ he added.

Written by Oliver Styles