A valley filled with mystery, romance and rich memories of long ago. Images of a feeble, somewhat tottering bridge are soon forgotten as one crosses the rickety bridge, to this remarkable wine estate.
In 1688, the first French Huguenots came to the Cape, escaping religious persecution in France. The Dutch government of the day granted the Huguenots land in the area then known as Oliphantshoek. The Huguenots were instrumental in improving the Cape’s wine industry bringing with them vast knowledge of viticulture and winemaking which the Dutch did not possess.
The French Huguenots renamed the area, Franschhoek, and established 7 original farms, namely: Chamonix, Dieu Donne, La Cotte, La Motte, La Dauphine, Cabriere and La Provence.
The land that is now Rickety Bridge was part of the original La Provence farm.
Over the years these properties were subdivided and on the 13th of May 1797 a quitrent grant was given in favor of the widow Paulina de Villiers, granting her the land she called Paulina’s Drift.
Paulina’s Drift was sold to Pieter de Villiers, under the name Zandrift. On the 15th of October 1813, a portion of the farm (the present Rickety Bridge) changed ownership to one Hendrick Lodewicus Pepler and on the 9th of February 1829 to his widow, Elizabeth Catharina de Villiers under the name Paulina’s Dal. “Dal” meaning valley, which was found at the other end of the river. She extended the farm and had 40,000 vines planted, producing grapes for wine and brandy. In 1831 Paulina’s Dal was given to her son, Abraham Johannes Pepler.
Apparently he built the manor house, between 1829 and 1831. The main provincial or public road passed directly in front of the Manor House and the present cellar. The position of the road has since changed to its current location. The old original rickety bridge, that consisted mainly of sleeper wood beams, was too narrow for larger vehicles, which necessitated them to come through other farms by means of the old road for deliveries. This was probably the main reason for changing and rebuilding the bridge, to the concrete state, during 1996.
In 2000, Duncan Spence, a British businessmen recognized the potential of Rickety Bridge and acquired the property.