The Khoisan people, who lived in harmony with the natural environment, inhabited the Cederberg area from early times, leaving behind a rich legacy of rock art. Then, during the mid-1800s, another resilient group of people set foot in the remote 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 home to Cederberg Wines. 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 of its total 5 500 ha, only 74 ha are under vine. Today, this award-winning winery is owned by David Nieuwoudt, who represents the fifth generation of the Nieuwoudt family. Emma, David's daughter, represents the sixth generation.
Many stories have been told about 'how it all started'. Maybe the first Platter's South African Wine Guide (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 that he decided to try his hand at making red wine, and the first vintage in 1977, though too small to be certified the first vintage, 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. Then, a friend, who worked for the Deciduous Fruit Board, noticed that winter fruit was doing really well on this fruit and tobacco farm. So he recommended that the family plant table grapevines. The Nieuwoudts followed the recommendation in 1965, and the 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. In 1997 David returned to the land where he grew up and took over the reins from Oom Flippie. Oom Pollie passed on in 1988 and Oom Flippie in 2010.