THE STORY OF CLAIRVAUX
Arriving at Clairvaux, Robertson off the R60, it’s clear that the main house, outbuildings, fruitful vineyards, every wall, tree and field, reflect five generations of dedication to making dreams a reality.
On the rise above the banks of the Willem Nels River stands our pretty double storied house from the 1800’s that we call home. Of Palladian proportions, it’s a smaller version of Leeuwenhof and was built for Balthazar Kloppers. It’s said to stand on the site of the original homestead of Pieter Willem Nel, who was born in the early 1700’s
Rial Kloppers: Founder of Clairvaux
The dream of Rial Kloppers, the wine cellar FOUNDED IN 1928 is today owned by his grandson Wouter De Wet, representing four generations of hard graft. Before it became a wine farm, Clairvaux was home to a thriving dairy farm, when milk was delivered daily to what is today known as the Robertson Wine Valley. Clairvaux’s barns, storerooms and stables are now the home of Ceramic Factory.
Clairvaux’s founder, Rial Kloppers, was considered a visionary becoming a member of the Provincial Council and Director of the KWV. He ended his fruitful career writing a book entitled ‘Our Own Wealth & Our Own Money’.
A further family narrative involves Rial Klopper’s sister Maria. During one of her annual visits from Johannesburg, she convinced her brother to donate Blommie, his prized cow, to her orphanage. Under protest, Blommie left Clairvaux the very next day on a train for Johannesburg.Raised at Clairvaux, Maria Kloppers became somewhat of a legend in Johannesburg. She gave 56 years of her life to abandoned children at a time when women had no vote or even a voice. Against this backdrop, Maria Kloppers established a refuge for babies shunned by society and became ‘mama’ to more than 2000 children in her lifetime. She was also the first woman to secure a loan from a South African bank that financed the home she built to shelter 60 babies and toddlers at any one time. She vowed that this home would never have an institutional air and her legacy lives on today at the Maria Kloppers campus, a division of Abraham Kriel Orphanage in Johannesburg, and it remains a comforting home to many children.
After Rial Kloppers’ death, his four-year-old daughter Letha Visagie inherited Clairvaux. Her mother, Beatrice Kloppers, a formidable woman in her own right, became the custodian of Clairvaux. She went about planting trees and constructed the terraces that now house the Lizamore@Clairvaux sculpture garden.
Her garden became the benchmark for many local avid gardeners whilst her flowers and foliage filled the halls of many wedding receptions. Her grandchildren fondly remember her delicious cookies and bitter-tasting medicinal herbs often handed out at the family’s holiday home at Cape Agulhas.
After Rial Kloppers’ death, his four-year-old daughter Letha Visagie inherited Clairvaux.
Today, Letha Visagie keeps this legacy alive with her love for gardening and baking, showing her children and grandchildren how to appreciate the simple things in life.
“After a 27-year absence, the family returned to Clairvaux in 2014. They immediately began renovations under the leadership of Steyn Swanepoel and Hennie Arendse. What you see today is only the beginning of a new generation of dreams for Clairvaux.”
RIALHEIM STUDIO 2016
“Every new tree planted and every new brick laid is a dedication to all the men and women who lived and worked here at Clairvaux… they’re all credited with creating the foundations for our new dreams and continue to inspire us every day.”