Rijk's Wine Estate
Rijk's Wine Estate
Rijk’s (pronounced “Rakes”) 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 the vineyards healthy and disease free. The mountains give rise to cool summer nights.
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. They 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 vineyard was founded.
In 2011, Rijk’s decided to concentrate on the cultivars best suited to their vineyard and soil – Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and Shiraz. All other cultivars, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, were replaced. This was a difficult but valuable decision for the future of Rijk’s, evident in the specialised and award-winning wines they produce today.
Pierre Wahl - Winemaker
Born in Port Elizabeth and then living in Gauteng for 11 years, Pierre’s passion for nature fueled a teenage dream of being a nature conservationist. Travelling regularly with his father, a citrus consultant, Pierre soon realised that citrus farming was limited to looking, listening and tasting in the orchard. Opportunities for product creativity and ageing were frustratingly lacking. It was then that Pierre discovered that winemaking ticked all the boxes – allowing freedom of creativity, possessing on-going developmental and ageing factors, affording a sense of true accomplishment and happiness. A challenging world that demands resourcefulness, ingenuity, perseverance and brilliance to succeed year after year. Pierre attended Elsenburg Agricultural College – the youngest student in his class - to study cellar technology.
Graduating in 1995, Pierre commenced his winemaking career at Niel Joubert Wines in Paarl as chief winemaker. In 1998 he accepted a challenging appointment at Môreson in Franschhoek. It was there where he gained most of his winemaking experience and traveled the wine world.
Pierre’s belief to this day is that his wines have a unique signature – a direct result of never being an assistant winemaker under prescribed winemaking conditions. Pierre has consulted to various wineries in the Tulbagh area and in 2007 his decision to participate in the Northern Rhône harvest supported his continued view that Tulbagh is best suited to bigger berry varieties including Rhône cultivars and Pinotage.
In 2002 he became the winemaker at Rijk’s, Tulbagh. During his time at Rijk’s. During his time at Rijk’s, Pierre has won numerous awards, including Diners Club Winemaker of the Year in 2016 with a Chenin Blanc.