Friday, May 18, 2012

Groot Constantia

The very first wine estate in the Cape I got to visit years ago was appropriately also the oldest wine estate in the Cape.  Groot Constantia was established in 1685 by Simon van der Stel who was the then Governor of the Cape of Good Hope.  The farm was used to grow fruit and vegetables, farm cattle and produce wine.  The original farm was broken up into three parts (Groot Constantia; Klein Constantia and Bergvliet) in 1712 after Van der Stel's death.  Today the Cape Dutch-style manor house is a museum with the exhibition of furniture, paintings, textiles, ceramics, brass, and copperware, provides an insight into the life of a successful 18th to late 19th century Cape farmer.


The Cloete family purchased the estate portion around the manor house in 1778 and planted extensive vineyards.  They also extended the manor house and added the Cloete Cellar building situated right behind the manor house.  The extension and wine cellar were designed by architect Louis Michel Thibault and the cellar's elaborate pediment gable was done by well known Cape sculptor Anton Anreith.

Walking towards the manor house along the lane of trees from the car park you pass the Jonkershuis complex.  The Jonkershuis Restaurant is the estate's main restaurant and sitting in the shade on a hot summers day with a glass of cold Constantia wine in hand can't be beaten.  The complex also has an Orientation Centre that uses panel, object and archaeological displays to give an overview of Groot Constantia from the past to present.  There is also a collection of carriages on display in the Coach House.

My personal point of view?  I love Groot Constantia.  Its easy to get to and there is so much to see.  If you aren't into the old and historic you can go wine tasting or just order a picnic basket from the restaurant and relax under the trees.  Groot Constantia does get very busy during peak holiday season though and there can be loads of individual travellers and tour groups about, so like most of the attractions around Cape Town it is a good idea to visit when its not as hectic.

3 comments:

  1. What a marvelous complex of buildings. I'd certainly taste some wine and explore.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's a beautiful area. Unfortunately we went there when it was quite busy. Wine tasting is not that wonderful - very tourist orientated (you get given a number and write-up on wines and are left sitting at a bench or table) - and wines we tasted were not that good. We prefer the small estates where you can chat with the sommelier. But it's great for tourists seeing all there is to offer there, including the panoramic views.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A beautiful place... and looks like you had perfect weather for it :-)

    ReplyDelete