You don’t get more historical than this. Groot Constantia is where it all began in the wine industry in South Africa. Granted to Dutch Governor Simon van der Stel in 1685, he laid out a larger vineyard than any before him at the Cape with almost 100,000 vines using cuttings from the Company Gardens in Cape Town and from the free farmers when they pruned their vines.
It was left to later owners – mainly Hendrik Cloete – to take it to the heights of international acclaim it achieved in the early 19th century with the likes of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Baudelaire writing about its wines and Napoleon and other crowned heads of Europe granting patronage to its products.
After the devastation of the phylloxera plague caused wine production to all but dry up on the Estate at the end of the 1800’s, fire all but destroying the Manor House, Groot Constantia rose like a veritable phoenix from the ashes during the latter half of last century.
Today Groot Constantia boasts a state-of-the-art winery headed by Boela Gerber, who won the Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year Award in 2002 for his Gouverneurs Merlot 2001. Other Groot Constantia Wines continue to garner medals at every turn. There is a large and welcoming tasting and sales facility, filled always with all nationalities, on Groot Constantia – which remains with the Table Bay Waterfront and a ride up Table Mountain one of the top three tourist destinations in Cape Town.
An Interpretative Centre with a time-line of the Estate’s history opened in late 2004 and amongst others focuses on the important role played by slaves from the Dutch Colonies in the East in the history of Groot Constantia, the agricultural industry of the Cape and more specifically in the wine industry.
Sustenance is offered on the Estate at Simon’s, named after the original owner, where one can eat al fresco in summer with lovely views of the vineyards and snugly inside in winter and at the Jonkershuis Restaurant where you can sit under the Oak trees and enjoy some of the Cape’s traditional dishes or a quick cake and tea.
Groot Constantia was recently the winner of an Art and Culture Great Wine Capitals Tourism Award , the capitals being Bilbao-Rioja, Bordeaux, Florence, Melbourne, San Francisco, Santiago, Porto and Cape Town.
A visit to this farm is a dichotomous experience, the historical on the one hand and a modern bustling thriving successful wine estate on the other.
The views alone of False Bay over the ringmuur wall from the majestic oak-lined driveway are as they say in Michelin “well worth the detour”.
Constantia Winegrowing Region
Winemaker: Boela Gerber
Groot Constantia Road,