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Our Origins

The history of Kriegler Farms dates back to 1961 when Johann Christiaan (Jan) Kriegler (1905 – 1989) bought the farm Kleinberg, a farm of 50 hectares with 20 hectares of established Barlinka table grapes and the balance was undeveloped ground.

Prior to that Mr Kriegler had been a builder originally from the Paarl District and after spending time completing some large contracts in the Hex River Valley, he developed a love for the area and decided to put down roots in the valley. Jan and Anna bought Kleinberg Farm and the family moved to the property. At the time he was 50 years old and his son Ben was 18. Together, this father and son team put all their efforts into developing the farming business.

Ben and his wife Gerda married in 1968 and have been involved in the farming operation full-time since then. They have three sons, Johan, André and Jacobus. Their oldest son, Johan has been involved with the farming business since 1993 Johan is involved with all aspects of the farming operation and is the driving force behind the Klipheuwel Fruit pre-packing division.

Over time the farming unit has expanded to include two other properties. In 1993 the Krieglers bought Klipheuwel Farm, a 27 hectare farm close to Kleinberg. This property was totally replanted within four years and is still planted to capacity.  At around the same time they also developed Koelfontein, an eight hectare property situated between Klipheuwel and Kleinberg. As this ground lies at the confluence of the Sanddrif and Amandel Rivers, much of the ground currently under vineyard was painstakingly reclaimed from old watercourses.

The year 2011 marked 50 years since the pioneering spirit of Jan Kriegler took a chance on buying and establishing a farm. The hard work, dedication and careful nurturing of the farming operation by three generations of Krieglers has resulted in a highly successful table grape production unit focussed on production, innovation and sustainability.

Read the full history...

Packhouse-cropA few years before this the Department of Water Affairs had completed the construction of the Roode Elsberg Dam in the Zanddriftkloof Valley, the water catchment area that supplies much of the water for the Sandhills area. The purpose of the dam is to supply additional water from this catchment area to the drier northern part of the Hex River Valley. The dam releases a specific volume allocation to supply the farmers who are riparian owners downstream and who have always depended on this water.

Kleinberg was purchased after the water allocations from the stream had been divided and there was no allocation from the Zanddriftkloof stream attached to the title deed. This meant that from the start finding adequate water production and expansion was a challenge. Initially water was available from a well in the lower end of the Zanddriftkloof Valley and in order to expand production they had to sink four boreholes during the 1960’s to supplement their water needs. Although the water table was relatively shallow, drilling for water in the alluvial soils with rounded river rocks proved very difficult and all the boreholes had to be lined.

Despite these considerable challenges, Jan and Ben Kriegler applied themselves to farming and through dedication and hard work, within a short while they were producing 4 000 cartons of Barlinka grapes per hectare. These were record productions at the time and allowed the farm to prosper but the water shortage remained a problem. This prompted discussions with the Department of Water Affairs in the late 1980’s and as a result the Krieglers discovered that they had indeed been allocated a water right for 20 hectares from the Roode Elsberg Dam in the 1960’s but had been unaware of this for two decades! This discovery made a big difference to their farming operation and made it possible to expand the farm to its full capacity.

In those days grapes were still exported in wooden crates and cushioned in wood wool in the boxes. As producers of a highly perishable product the Krieglers also realised the importance of preserving the quality of the fruit and thus built their first on-site cooling shed as early as 1965. The capacity of the original cold storage facility was 40 pallets and over the years the cold storage capacity of the farms has been increased to the current 200 pallet capacity. Today fruit for export is pre-cooled on the farm and then delivered to Hexkoel, the co-operative cooling and storage facility in the valley.
“As my father was a builder by trade, he built all the farm buildings and dwellings on the farm with help from his brother,” explained Ben Kriegler. “If something mechanical broke we fixed it in our farm workshop and as far as possible did everything on the farm ourselves. My father was frugal and did not believe in borrowing capital. He passed away in 1989 and his values are what built and have sustained the success of our farming operation. He taught me that to succeed at farming there is no substitute for direct involvement and personal interest in the operation.”

Ben and his wife Gerda married in 1968 and have been involved in the farming operation full-time since then. They have three sons, Johan, André and Jacobus. Their oldest son, Johan has been involved with the farming business since 1993 Johan is involved with all aspects of the farming operation and is the driving force behind the Klipheuwel Fruit pre-packing division.

Over time the farming unit has expanded to include two other properties. In 1993 the Krieglers bought Klipheuwel Farm, a 27 hectare farm close to Kleinberg. This property was totally replanted within four years and is still planted to capacity.  At around the same time they also developed Koelfontein, an eight hectare property situated between Klipheuwel and Kleinberg. As this ground lies at the confluence of the Sanddrif and Amandel Rivers, much of the ground currently under vineyard was painstakingly reclaimed from old watercourses.

The year 2011 marked 50 years since the pioneering spirit of Jan Kriegler took a chance on buying and establishing a farm. The hard work, dedication and careful nurturing of the farming operation by three generations of Krieglers has resulted in a highly successful table grape production unit focussed on production, innovation and sustainability.