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 the Cape winelands’ highest-altitude wine farm. The farm itself is covered in unspoilt fynbos – since 2011 only 50,2 ha are under vine. Today, this award-winning winery is owned by Ernst and David Nieuwoudt – proudly fourth and fifth generation, with daughter Emma, 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, 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 so well on this fruit and tobacco farm and 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.