The American Revolution had only been over for 14 years when a group of Huguenots — or French Protestants — fled their homeland and sailed to Cape Town, establishing a vineyard and winery not too far away in what is now Franschhoek, South Africa. That enterprise still exists nearly 220 years later, and less than two years ago, it established a strong foothold in the United States.
In High Point of all places.
Rickety Bridge Winery, founded in 1797, put down roots in High Point a little over a year ago thanks to owner Duncan Spence and CEO Andy Woolgar. The two Brits opened a hub in the Triad in part due to love — Spence’s girlfriend is from Reidsville and he has a home in Kernersville while Woolgar’s wife is from Lexington and now works for a neurology doctor in the Third City. But it’s also a practical move, Woolgar said, given High Point’s prime location as a distribution hub.
Rickety Bridge does have minimal distribution in Baltimore — a private importer, Woolgar said — but North Carolina is the company’s focus in the United States. As well it should be; the Old North State is Rickety Bridge’s largest market outside of South Africa, Woolgar said, more than Belgium, China, Scandinavia or the UK, he added.
“There’s a lot of drinkers here, mate,” he said, laughing. “Which is good!”
Rickety Bridge is self distributed, operating out of a former furniture showroom and connecting with clients such as Mozelle’s and Wine Merchants Gourmet in Winston-Salem and the W on Elm and Undercurrent in Greensboro. The wines, made by hand in “a very old world French style” vary wildly in price, from about $15 to about $200 a bottle, and number close to 20 in style, Woolgar said. Rickety Bridge is best known for its cabernet sauvignon and its shiraz, but it also puts out a pinotage South African-style wine, chenin blanc, blends and a brut rosé, among others.
Woolgar is continuously busy with wine tastings, dinners and promoting their product locally almost every night, he said. And while the vineyard and winery are still based halfway across the globe in South Africa, Rickety Bridge’s commitment to High Point is solid; in addition to the building and business and familial ties to the area, Woolgar — who has a 336 area code — lives in the Third City as well. If anything, expect to see Rickety Bridge Winery’s local reputation and footprint grow.
Contact CEO Andy Woolgar at [email protected] or visit ricketybridgewineryusa.com for more info.