Rich in heritage and beauty, the Constantia Wine Route includes Groot Constantia Estate, the oldest wine producing farm in the country that lays claim to the roots of the South African wine industry.
Historic Constantia is the site of Simon van der Stel’s (one of the first governors of the Cape of Good Hope) 17th century wine farm and the source of the world famous 19th century Constantia sweet dessert wines. Simon chose the Valley for his own farm in 1685 and was the first to recognize the potential of the Cape as more than just a half-way station to the East.
What he desired most was a farm of his own, and when permission was granted in 1685 he immediately ventured off to uncover the most favourable area. Men were put to work, digging up baskets of soil along the length of the southern slopes from Table Bay through to Muizenberg with each sample sent to the Castle for testing.
Eventually satisfied that the decomposed granite soil from the sheltered valley facing False Bay, bound by the sea on both sides, was the most favourable of all, he claimed it and called it Constantia. He built a fine house (Today one of the most beautifully restored Cape Dutch homes) surrounded by gardens and orchards, and by 1709 at least 70,00 vines had been established.
Van der Stel died at Constantia in 1712, having embarked on a winemaking tradition which would soon achieve international fame. As none of van der Stel's family remained at the Cape, Constantia was divided into thirds and sold.
Constantia wine was coveted across the globe. Limited volumes were made and it was so expensive that it was exclusively bought and consumed by the aristocracy of the world. Members of the British Royal House, Napoleon Bonaparte, Louis Philippe of France, Frederick II (The Great) of Prussia, the Lords Seventeen of the VOC, governors, admirals, captains and other dignitaries coveted the Constantia label and treated their special guests to it.
Today - due to urbanisation, this small vine-growing area is lodged between the residential area of Constantia and Table Mountain, a world heritage site.The Constantia wine route has swelled from its original 5 wine estates to 10. All which have a rich history of winemaking.
Groot Constantia is one of the first and finest examples of Cape Dutch architecture. The homestead is exquisitely furnished with antiques. The Wine Museum has a number of interesting exhibits, including stoneware dating from 500 BC to the present day. Wine can be sampled and purchased on the estate. There are two restaurants on the estate and daily wine tours.
The other wine estates include Buitenverwachting, Constantia Glen, Constantia Uitsig, Eagles Nest, High Constantia, Klein Constantia, Steenberg Vinyards, Silvermist Wine Estate and Beau Constantia.
Come and explore the Constantia Valley and taste award winning wines!
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