The Mostert family of Nieuwedrift Wine Estate in the Swartland has the hospitality gene. As soon as you drive through the gates of their well-tended farm en route to Piketberg from Malmesbury, you feel the most incredible sense of welcome, and that’s before you’ve even sit down at a table with a glass of bubbly and a pizza from the stone-fire oven, overlooking that incredible view.
We recently caught up with owner and winemaker Johan Mostert and his daughter in law Carla to find out what they are up to at Nieuwedrift and how this gem of a farm has quietly developed into one of the best-loved stops along the Piketberg bubbly route over recent years.
How a fifth-generation wheat farmer became the Dom Pérignon of the Swartland
Johan Mostert did not start out as a winemaker. In fact, he rather came at the whole business sideways, and made his first batch of Méthode Cap Classique by accident!
“I started farming on Nieuwedrift in 1987, after I finished my agricultural studies at Stellenbosch. The year I arrived back here, it was very dry, and I also missed the ladies a lot, which is how it happened that I ended up working at Bottelary for during the harvest season for three years,” Johan remembers with a smile. “This is where the idea of making my own wine first developed, but a whole lot of things had to happen first. I met my wife, Karin, at the age of 33 (pretty late for that time!) and we wasted no time in creating our family.”
“Once our three children, Bianka, Hendrik en Johannes, were grown enough to take care of themselves, for the most part, we had some more time to ourselves. This is when Karin took up painting and I started making wine. My father had planted a few blocks of vineyards on the farm; we used to deliver to Citrusdal, and later to Porterville. In 1996 we built a dam and planted some more Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, and Chardonnay. Today we’re at about 15 hectares in total.”
Johan only started to make wine at Nieuwedrift in 2002, whole-bunch pressing his first vintage with a lorry jack and finding it rather undrinkable, much to his surprise.
“This is when I realised that I needed to find someone to teach me how to make wine, which is how Marais de Villiers came into my life. Later on, Albie Truter from Darling also taught me some of the more elegant tricks of the trade. Which is also how it happened that I became the Dom Pérignon of the Swartland completely by accident,” Johan chuckles.
The story goes that Johan had just gotten the fermentation process going on his first Chardonnay, excitedly bottling the batch when he thought that things had simmered down sufficiently. And then he started noticing a few broken bottles from time to time…
“My first thought was that someone was messing with me, until one morning when I was patrolling the cellar (at that stage still my meat processing room) and saw with my own eyes how one of the corks jumped from its bottle, hitting the one in front of it like a missile. This is apparently pretty much exactly what happened to the French monk Dom Perignon who also made champagne by accident in the 1600s!”
Sit down to true Swartland hospitality at Nieuwedrift Restaurant
According to Johan, the family initially opened Nieuwedrift Restaurant to sell their wine, but it quickly developed into something much more than just a convenient outlet for their product.
“Nothing sells wine like a restaurant. We exclusively stock our own wine, except when it runs out like it happened this year. I sell 98% of my wine from right here, or to people who had a lovely time here and end up buying wine to take back home in the hope to recreate their experience. We do have the capability to courier wine on order, but we always tell people that our wine tastes at its very best right here,” says Johan.
“We started out with nice pizzas, so we built the wood-fire pizza oven,” says Carla, who is in charge of running the restaurant. “We received tremendous support from the local residents and farmers in the Moorreesburg, Piketberg and Porterville vicinity, so we realised that there is a need for a bit of a more varied menu. At the moment we have burgers, calamari, calamari burgers, steaks, and tasty starters like jalapeno poppers. Our burger patties are sourced locally from Nicky Lategan, so you just know they are succulent and absolutely delicious.” See the full menu here.
According to the Mostert family, the restaurant is not a stuffy, uppity joint – it’s a place to kick of your shoes and relax while the kids run around and have a ball of a time.
“If you’re looking for a place where you can feel like part of the family and have a snooze in a beanbag on the shady lawn after enjoying a nice meal and a few glasses of wine, this is the place to be,” says Johan. “We don’t do white linen fanciness; out here it’s all about taking a breath and having a good time.”
Stay over at Nieuwedrift Cottage
Johan’s wife Karin, a talented artist and lover of all things beautiful, also recently converted a cottage into accommodation for guests who would like to extend their visit to Nieuwedrift.
Nieuwedrift Cottage is a self-catering unit for two people and can accommodate another two people if necessary on a sleeper couch in the living room. The cottage has one main bedroom with a queen-size bed with an en-suite bathroom including a bath. An additional bathroom with a shower is available.
There is a fireplace inside the living room and a braai facility outside. The main bedroom has an air-conditioner and a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans are also available in the living room and kitchen. The cottage is equipped with a DSTV guesthouse package with kykNET and Wi-Fi, including Netflix. A fully equipped kitchen is available, and the restaurant is just next door.
How & when to visit Nieuwedrift Wine Estate
Nieuwedrift is open for wine tastings and sales from Monday to Friday between 09:00 – 17:00; on Saturdays and Sundays between 09:00 – 14:00. The restaurant is open from Monday to Thursday from 11:00 – 15:00; Fridays from 11:00 – 21:00; Saturdays van 11:00 – 20:00; and Sundays from 11:00 – 15:00.
The Mostert family also likes to host special events at the restaurant from time to time (rugby game screenings, etc.), so keep an eye on their Facebook page to see what’s cooking.
QUICK LINKS >> Website (Wine & Restaurant): www.nieuwedrift.co.za | Website (Accommodation): www.nieuwedrift-accommodation.co.za | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org| Telephone Numbers: 064 607 0041 (Wine Tasting & Restaurant), 082 921 6015 (Functions & Events), 082 932 3189 (Accommodation)