Rijk’s is situated in the small town of Tulbach, 120km north east of Cape Town and 90km east of the Atlantic coast in a Mediterranean climate area. Steeped in history, the beautiful Church Street has 32 national monuments. The valley is surrounded by the majestic Winterhoek, Saronsberg and Witzenberg mountains, often snow-capped in winter. Cold winters with rain and snow and very dry summers with fresh south easterly winds keep our vineyards healthy and disease free. Because of the mountains, we have cool summer nights.
1751 to 1771
During this period, Rijk Tulbagh was the Governor of the Cape. Not only was our town named after him, but also the Rijk’s brand in his honour.
Devastating earthquake destroys the town of Tulbagh.
Lover of good food and collector of good wines, Neville Dorrington had been working in Cape Town for more than 20 years. In 1996 Neville and his family decided to move to the countryside and grow and produce their own wine. We fell in love with the Tulbagh valley and came across 137 hectares of virgin soils that was never cultivated. The slopes faced north, south, east and west and the analysis of the vertical shale soils revealed potential for low yielding, high quality grapes. The offer to purchase was accepted and the Rijks farm was found.
“Lets do it all from scratch”
14 Hectares of vines were planted, and the following year a further 12 hectares. We decided to plant many different cultivars – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Shiraz and Pinotage to see what best suited our climate.
Our new cellar was designed by legendary winemaker Gunter Brozel, who had retired from Nederburg after 33 years and opened on time.
First grapes harvested and received at our cellar.
Pierre Wahl joined Rijk’s as winemaker. Our first export order was shipped to Sweden.
Our first of many Gold and Double Gold awards received for Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and Shiraz. Rijk’s was extremely well received and bought by wine enthusiasts from around the world.
After 12 years we had learnt about our natural environment and the characteristic taste and flavours of the wines we produced. We decided to concentrate on the cultivars best suited to our farm and soil – Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and Shiraz. All other cultivars, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, were pulled out and replaced. This was a difficult but valuable decision for the future of Rijk’s, evident in the specialised wines that we produce today.
This year marked the Maiden vintage of the Rijk’s Pinotage Syrah Cape Blend.
Having been born on the farm in the same year that Rijk’s Estate started planting vineyards, it’s no surprise that Neville’s son, Tiger has shown a keen interest in nature and agriculture from an early age. Since harvesting the vinyards from a quad bike at 5 years, Tiger knew that he one day wanted to take over the family business. In 2016 Tiger officially joined the farm, and is now in a full-time capacity as head of Sales and Marketing.
The Dorrington family has always shared a dream of becoming a truly South African Estate. It is with this in mind that they decided to buy back and upgrade the Rijk’s Hotel. The Estate now offers luxury winelands accommodation where Rijks wine lovers from across the globe can come and meet the family and experience Tulbagh farm life.