A Brief History of Dwarsrivier and the Cellar

The San and Khoi peoples inhabited the Cederberg area from early times, leaving behind a rich legacy of rock art. It was only during the mid-1800s that another tough group of people set foot in the Cederberg – the Nieuwoudt family. The first Nieuwoudts arrived in South Africa during the early 1700s. Nearly 100 years later, their descendants moved to the Cederberg. In 1893 the present family moved to the farm Dwarsrivier, which is also known as Cederberg Private Cellar and Sanddrif Holiday Resort. Six generations ago, no one would have guessed that this rugged, fynbos-covered area on the edge of the Succulent Karoo biome would one day become a high-altitude wine farm in the Cape winelands. The farm itself lies in the Cederberg Wilderness Area and only 66 ha are under vine. Today, this award-winning winery is owned by David Nieuwoudt – proudly fifth generation. Emma, David’s daughter, is the sixth generation. Many stories have been told about ‘how it all started’. Maybe the first Platter’s guide to South African wines (1980) puts it best: ‘Oom Pollie has confounded the experts by producing prize-winning wines on his farm high in the remote Cederberg Mountains. He first started making wine for the farm workers with table grapes that ripened too late to be taken in by the nearest co-operative. The venture was so successful, he decided to try his hand at making red wine, and the first vintage in 1977, though too small to be certified, was acclaimed by experts as being up to Superior standards’. The other story goes as follows: There used to be no vines on the farm. A friend, who worked for the Deciduous Fruit Board, noticed that winter fruit was doing really well on this fruit and tobacco farm. He recommended that the family plant table grape vines. This was done in 1965 and these vines did so well that the first wine vines were planted in 1973 – the source of the top-class Cabernet Sauvignon of 1977/8. David’s grandfather, Oom Pollie, and his uncle, Oom Flippie, managed the farm until 1997. During 1997 David took over the reins from Oom Flippie. Oom Pollie passed on during 1988 and Oom Flippie in 2010.

Historical Timeline

The Nieuwoudts buy the land from their neighbours, the Du Toits.

The present Nieuwoudt family moves to Dwarsrivier. They start farming with fruit, tobacco and vegetables.

The first table grape vines, Barlinka, are planted by Oom Pollie Nieuwoudt (third generation).

The Cederberg Wilderness is proclaimed (2nd wilderness area in SA).

Cederberg Cellars is registered as a company and the first vines are planted.

The first wine is made on Dwarsrivier.

Cederberg Wines plays a key role in establishing a tourism office in Clanwilliam.

The present winemaker, David Nieuwoudt (fifth generation), takes over the reins on the farm.

Cederberg Wines helps to establish the Cederberg Conservancy.

First replanting begins, replacing some table grape vines with wine grape vines.

Cederberg Wines joins Integrated Production of Wine (IPW).

All fruit trees are removed and Dwarsrivier becomes a wine farm only.

Wines of SA (WOSA) holds its first strategic meeting regarding the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI).

The Western Cape Nature Conservation Board and Cape Action for People and the Environment (CAPE) establish the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor (GCBC).

15 September: Filming of the WOSA-video at Cederberg Wines.

25 February: Cederberg Wines invites a consultant to evaluate the cellar’s ‘clean water’.

1 August: Cederberg Wines attains BWI membership.

1,1 ha of Viognier and 3,5 ha sauvignon blanc vines are planted.

1,5 ha each of 32-year-old Cabernet sauvignon and Chenin blanc vines are removed.

THIS AREA IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

THIS AREA IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

THIS AREA IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

THIS AREA IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

THIS AREA IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

THIS AREA IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

THIS AREA IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

THIS AREA IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

THIS AREA IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Frequently Asked Questions

HOW DID YOU START MAKING WINE HERE AT DWARSRIVIER?

Before the political changes of the 1990s, wine farming was an income like any other kind of farming, may it be sheep, fruit or fish. The big names in the industry were well known, of course. Up to 1990 the Nieuwoudts focused on fruit, tobacco, vegetables and livestock. During the 1990s, when sanctions were lifted, farming life changed quite radically and many farmers started specialising. Younger farmers, in many cases, faced huge challenges – the whole world had suddenly become their playground and delivery field. In the Cederberg, David Nieuwoudt returned to the land where he grew up and decided to focus on wine – after all, that was what he had studied and loved. The year? 1997.

THE ‘WATER STORY’: WHAT IS SO INTERESTING ABOUT DWARSRIVIER’S WATER?

All the water used on the farm comes from free-running mountain springs that feed the Dwars River, which originates west of the Sneeuberg Mountain, partly on our land. We do not use any water from the Uitkyk area. When we refer to ‘the farm’ we mean the household water consumption of 29 houses, Sanddrif Holiday Resort, the irrigation system for the vineyards, and the water for the wine cellar and Cederberg Brewery. Sanddrif’s irrigation water comes from another source.

WHAT IS THE GREATER CEDERBERG BIODIVERSITY CORRIDOR?

The Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor (GCBC) is a unique project in the sense that nowhere in South Africa is there an area as large as this that includes the people, their agricultural and other activities, and an unspoilt natural area. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) financed the initial work for the project. This was so successful that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) donated R1,5 million to fund the implementation phase over five years.
Read more at www.cederbergcorridor.org.za

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