Our Team

Dirk Willemse

There is very little you can teach Dirk Willemse about vines or the soil. He is also prepared to teach you all he knows, but only if you ask. He treats all questions in the same way – at first he smiles quietly looking past you at some spot out there and when he knows what he wants to say he shoots straight from the hip. Thus you always know exactly where you stand with Mr Willemse.

Dirk, the fourth of ten children, was born in Stellenbosch on 6 October 1958. He grew up and went to school in James Town. At the age of 15 with grade 7 under his belt he went to work in Stop ‘n Shop in Stellenbosch for Mr. Saves. Dirk wanted to be outside and he soon found a job at High Rustenburg, working for the Garlick family. Here he started working in the vineyards where he felt at home and happy. However, two years later, his family moved and he went to work on the farm La Provence in Franschoek.

When he later moved back to Stellenbosch he worked at the Rustenburg Hydro where he worked mainly indoors doing maintenance. It was during this time, he recalls, that he met his wife Nella who was then working At Klein DasBosch in the Blaauwklippen Valley. They were married in 1984. At the time Dirk was working for the Stellenbosch council in the refuse removal department. Although he worked there for eight years, he always yearned to go back to farm work and being out in the vineyards again. Then he found what he was looking for and on 6 January 1991, he started work on Chatford farm which was earlier subdivided from Stellenrust.

In 2000 Chatford farm was bought by the De Villiers Family and became Kleinood Plaas. Dirk stayed on and has become one of the stalwarts in the Kleinood team. He knows the farm like the palm of his hand. Dirk was here to prepare the soil and plant the first vines and has since weathered every storm with the farm. He has witnessed and played a part in all the construction work, the first harvest and first bottle of Tamboerskloof wine that was bottled on the farm. He drives the tractor and leads his team to mind the olives and vines and hand sort the grapes for pressing with equal enthusiasm and absolute dedication.

In 2008, Dirk and his family moved from their cottage on Kleinood to a more comfortable new house in James Town. He now lives here with his wife Nella and his fourteen year old daughter, Theresa. They have three older children, Bernice, Dirkie and Quintin who have left home. He has two grandchildren.

Kleinood has become home for Dirk Willemse. It is here, in these vineyards that he is happiest and says that if he had any choice in the matter, it would be from Kleinood that he would like to retire one day.

"He knows the farm like the palm of his hand. Dirk was here to prepare the soil and plant the first vines and has since weathered every storm with the farm."