Many of you have heard that we have recently sold Klein River Cheese. It has been a rather emotional experience but we are excited by the new prospects this brings for the business.
Klein River has never just been a business to us. It was my Oupa’s farm and my Dad’s inheritance; it was my Mom and Dad’s first home together and is an intrinsic part of me and my sister’s childhood; and my daughter’s too. It has been hard for us to let go because Klein River Cheese is so much a part of our lives and filled with so many memories.
The cheesery is 20 years old this year. It is a multi-award-winning company that has been hailed as one of the country’s most successful cheese businesses. If I think back to when it all began, I am really proud of what my parents have accomplished.
In 1976 when my Mom and Dad first moved onto Kleinrivierskloof it was a little dairy farm with a herd of Friesland cattle supplying Bonnita with fresh milk. Soon they started bottling their own milk and I remember going with my Dad in our big truck to deliver milk to the restaurants and cafés in Stanford, Gansbaai & Hermanus.
Jenna, my sister, and my December school holidays were spent labelling milk bottles; packing “sakkies” (milk sachets) and building houses out of milk crates. My Dad was running the milk bottling machine, my Mom was taking phone orders and invoicing; and my Oupa was commanding the milking parlour along with Wessel, the Farm Manager.
In later years, once we had turned to cheese making, a convoy of vehicles filled with family and staff would travel to Franschhoek for the SA Cheese Festival to promote our cheeses. This became an annual event and is one full of memories to be cherished. The feedback from the public and their genuine delight with our creations was fantastic but it was also the pleasure of enjoying the company of friends; cousins; husbands; kids; mother-in-laws; grandparents and great-grandparents who all came together to help. Klein River Cheese has always been a family business with all hands on deck when needed!
Throughout these years we have had the assistance of the most phenomenal team of employees. Many of them have been with us since the very start and have become a part of our extended family. They have played an integral part in the success of our business and will continue to do so under the new ownership.
We have also had the most amazing support and encouragement from our customers, business associates and even strangers. However, being a proudly Stanfordian cheesery, we are especially appreciative of all the support we have got from the locals. You are our greatest champions and it has been phenomenal sharing this journey with all of you.
The decision to sell was made so much easier by meeting the Baleta family. They share our passion for tradition, family and excellence. Peter and Maggie, together with their 3 adult children Hannah, Nicholas, and Matthew, are currently settling into the farmhouse. They officially take over as of 1st March 2015 but we will remain close at hand for the first year to offer them guidance and support.
The Baleta family are from Tzaneen where they have farmed for the last 32 years. They also started a world-class independent high school and established, and still maintain, a successful atjar business.
The Baletas’ are dedicated, talented, capable and very excited to start their new venture. We believe they are the perfect fit for Klein River Cheese and that the business will prosper under their leadership.
We wish them many happy years making their own memories at Klein River Cheese and in Stanford! And continuing to provide you with award-winning cheeses of course!