Who would have thought that our vegetable farm would slowly turn into these beautiful vineyards.
History of the farm
In 1996 the Kassier family came to purchase Highgate farm, what was then, a small 1ha hydroponic vegetable farm in the misty hills of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands.
Initially the small business served to supply local guest houses, coffee shops, hotels, and markets with fresh produce. The business grew to supply major supermarket chains throughout KZN.
Growing all the vegetables on the farm, the concept of the Piggly Wiggly Farm Stall was born. Under the large tree at the entrance of Piggly Wiggly, started with a few hay bales, offcut pine and tin roof, the Farm Stall successfully supplied local passers-by with fresh produce, home baked bread, goods and craft dairy products. Its beginnings were humble: no more than a tractor drawn trailer packed daily with fresh produce and sold meters away from source. The concept was however charming and the farm stall became a point of meeting and shopping 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 and wine such that they could share more local produce with their community and visiting patrons. Piggly Wiggly has now become a household name locally and abroad. In 2004 Rudi paired up with the local Cedara Agricultural College to research whether producing wine locally in KZN would be feasible and so the first block of vineyards was planted consisting of 26 different cultivars. Today, more than a decade later, the farm now boasts a five-hectare vineyard producing ten certified wines, including the first Chardonnay to be certified in 2010 in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Between 2010 and 2015, the family produced wine as an interest rather than for commercial purposes. In 2016 Thornton Pillay joined Highgate and the wine making process was officially professional. Thornton having studied as a Wine Maker and Viticulturist in Stellenbosch, worked at Ernie els wines, Groot Constantia, KWV and in France (Burgundy), now became the Wine Maker & Viticulturist at Highgate Wine Estate taking the farm to a fully functioning wine estate. The opportunity then arose to build a Tasting Room to showcase and present the premium wines Thornton created.
In 2016 Thornton bottled the first commercially produced wines of 1500 bottles. Highgate Wine Estate is now producing 17 000 bottles per annum. It is our goal to increase our Vineyards over the next few years.
Between 2017 and 2018 the current fully fledged Cellar was constructed. During this time Rudi’s Daughter, Cathryn Kassier had finished her studies in Stellenbosch and spent some time working at Ernie Els Wines in Stellenbosch. This is where she met her now Fiancé Tom Herselman, who had also completed his studies in Stellenbosch and was a manager at Ernie Els Wines. From this romance, the TOMCAT was born.
This journey of thoughtfully produced food and wine is now shared with all through the farm’s elegant tasting room, various restaurants and variety of retail outlets at Piggly Wiggly.