THE STORY OF HIGHGATE
In 1996 the Kassier family purchased Highgate farm – what was then a small 1ha hydroponic vegetable farm in the misty hills of the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Midlands.
Initially, the farm served to supply local guesthouses, coffee shops, hotels, and markets with fresh produce. The business later grew to supply major supermarket chains throughout KZN. By growing all the vegetables on the farm itself, the concept of the Piggly Wiggly Farm Stall was born. Under the large tree at the entrance of Piggly Wiggly, with a few hay bales, offcut pine branches and a tin roof, the Farm Stall supplied local passers-by with fresh produce, home-baked bread, select goods, and craft dairy products.
Its beginnings were humble: no more than a tractor-drawn trailer packed daily with fresh produce sold meters away from the earthy source. The concept was modest and charming, naturally growing to the point of becoming a meeting and shopping destination for patrons from near and wide.
As the demand grew, so did the farm. Rudi and Cindy, the owners, used this opportunity to fuel their own passionate love of food to share more local produce with their community and visiting patrons. Piggly Wiggly has now become a household name locally and abroad.
Rudi has always been a romantic at heart, with a love for wine and the process of growing a crop by hand. Coincidentally, in 2004, Cedara College was doing trials on growing grapes in KZN and Rudi was approached by them to get involved. And so, the first block of vineyards were planted on Highgate Farm consisting of 26 different cultivars.
Today, more than a decade later, what started off as a passion project, has now blossomed into one of only three established wine estates in KZN – Highgate Wine Estate. Highgate boasts a five-hectare vineyard with a variety of Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. The farm also produced the first certified KZN chardonnay in 2010. If you have a look to the right of the Highgate entrance, you can still find the original trial block of vines that was planted in 2004.
The Kassier family value the authentic process behind creating a bottle of wine, and so, they keep to the tradition of bottling and labelling by hand.
As demand and interest grew, the opportunity arose to build a tasting room for showcasing and presenting the premium wines crafted. The beautiful Highgate building as it now stands was built predominantly from demolished Victorian red brick heritage buildings around KZN. Pino from La Lampara and Rudi partnered together and worked on the design/build of Highgate, using local craftsmen to construct what you see today.
In 2016, the first commercially viable wines were produced totalling 1500 bottles. Highgate Wine Estate now produces on average 17 000 bottles per annum, and it is our goal to increase our vineyards over the next few years.
Between 2017 and 2018, the current fully-fledged cellar was constructed. At this time, after completing her studies at Stellenbosch University, in order to complement the family’s interest in wine, Rudi and Cindy’s daughter, Cathryn, worked at Ernie Els wines where she met and fell in love with her husband, Tom. In 2018, they moved back to the farm together and both joined the family business. From this romance, the TOMCAT wine was born as well as the Sakkie wine which is affectionately named after Tom and Cathryn’s boisterous boxer.
In 2020, after practicing as an attorney in Umhlanga, Rudi and Cindy’s son, Nicholas and his high school sweetheart, Siobhan, also moved back to the farm to both join the family business. Their daughter was the first grandchild to be born in the Kassier family and was celebrated by dedicating Highgate’s 2020 Blanc de Noir to her: Clarke Sage.
Nicholas’ twin brother, Matthew, after completing his medical degree at Stellenbosch University, has since moved to Zurich, Switzerland to further his studies. He is currently living, and working as a psychiatrist, in Zurich where he met his now wife, Natalie.
In 2022, the second grandchild, Asher Nelson was born to Nicholas and Siobhan. Being able to work alongside their children daily and watch their grandchildren grow up is a dream come true for Rudi and Cindy.
In 2022, Monique Fourie joined Highgate as our winemaker. After completing her studies at Stellenbosch University (BSC. Agric – Oenology and Viticulture), she worked as an assistant winemaker at Neethlingshof. Following this, she joined KWV as an assistant winemaker whereafter she was promoted to winemaker. At the end of 2017, she worked as the general manager and winemaker at Le Grand Domaine. At all these wineries, she worked with and produced award winning wines.
Following her engagement to her partner, Monique moved to Gauteng where she was involved with wine sales through PB Liquor as well as her own brand, Colour Me Blind. Highgate is lucky to have such an accomplished winemaker on our team.
2022 also saw the start of Highgate Cattle Company, where the family’s love of farming and animals led to a shared interest in breeding local Nguni cattle. Highgate now boasts its own stud Nguni herd, with a second season of calves about to be born. The newest addition to the Highgate range includes The Red Nguni wine, named after one of the Nguni cows in the herd.
We invite you to come visit us at Highgate to experience a journey of thoughtfully produced food and wine through the farm’s elegant tasting room, various restaurants, and a variety of retail outlets at Piggly Wiggly.
THE RESIDENTIAL ESTATE
Highgate Residential Estate is situated on the same farm as Highgate Wine Estate and Piggly Wiggly. Perfect for anyone who loves the countryside. Imagine being surrounded by rolling hills and high-mountains in the distance, stunning views and sunsets, this secure and accessible estate offers not just a taste of the midlands – but the true feeling of country living.
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