Constantia wine route, South Africa
Constantia wine route has a lot going for it. First, itís very
close to Cape Town, nestling on the eastern slopes of Table
Mountain. The vineyards are surrounded by some pleasant, affluent
suburbs Ė this is the
address in Cape Town Ė in easy striking distance of many of the
tourist sights and with some smart dining options. Second, itís
a manageable wine route, with just five estates: you donít have
to sit their scratching your head wondering which ones to visit.
Fourth, thereís the historical aspect: this is where wine was
first made in South Africa. Finally, there ainít any duds: all
five wineries make good wine.
Some history. Back in 1685 the
cape settlementís first Governor, Simon van der Stel, was
granted the Constantia estate. Van der Stel was a bit of a wheeler
dealer and did very well for himself. When he resigned the
governorship, he was succeeded by his son. Unfortunately, his son
bent the rules too much and got into trouble, which resulted in
confiscation of the Constantia estate in 1708, which was then
split into three: Buitenverwachting, Groot Constantia and Klein
Constantia. However, the current Klein Constantia is actually part
of the Groot Constantia Estate that was partitioned off in 1823.
which stands alone a short drive from the other four estates, has
only a relatively recent history of wine grape growing. The 205 ha
estate was purchased in 1990 by a large mining company who have
renovated and developed it into a wine estate with luxury
accommodation and a golf course.
And, of course, six foot
perimeter fencing with electrification.
Over the space of a couple of
days I visited all five. You could do all of them in one day, but
the nice thing about Cape Town is that wine fits well into the
context of a family holiday. The reports will be appearing here
over the space of the next couple of weeks, beginning with
also: the wine anorak's guide to
South African wine