Groot Constantia is South Africa’s oldest wine farm - in existence for 328 years this year. Wine has been produced on the estate without interruption since 1685 and in fact, Groot Constantia bottles, bottle shards and bottle seals dating from as far back as 1774 have been found in far corners of the world in some unusual circumstances.
Treasure hunters and archaeologists finding Groot Constantia bottles
One bottle was found at the bottom of the ocean in the archipelago outside Stockholm in the late 1940’s by a diver; three bottles were discovered in the cellar of a castle near Belgium that date to the period 1760 – 1840; a bottle piece featuring the Constantia bottle seal was discovered on a beach in the Delaware Bay and identified by historians to be part of the cargo of the Severn – a ship that was stranded there in 1774; another find was a very crude example of the Constantia wine seal – evidently far older than all the other examples - which was unearthed in an excavation in Meiningen in Germany.
The nations wine estate
Commander Simon van der Stel of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was originally granted the land on which Groot Constantia stands on 13 July 1685. It has changed hands many times over the centuries of course and now Groot Constantia is a National Monument and a living museum with the task of preserving the history and cultural legacy of the South African wine industry for the people of South Africa. The current owners of the estate, the Groot Constantia Trust, a non-profit company, has ensured that Groot Constantia is beautifully maintained and operated to the highest standards – delivering a top-quality experience to visitors.
What’s in a label – new wine label launched
It is in honour of Groot Constantia’s rich history as the origin of the South African wine industry that the estate decided to resurrect and re-use an original, historic wine label, which prominently features a sketch of the Manor House at the top, and now an exact replica of this label appears on the Gouverneurs Reserve range of wines.
'Groot Constantia’s main point of difference within the industry is the fact that the estate is the oldest in the country and it is for this reason that we chose to use an old label as our ‘new’ wine label,' states Boela Gerber, Winemaker for Groot Constantia.
Groot Constantia recently upgraded one of the tasting rooms and this revitalised space reflects how the estate blends the old with the new. Visitors can relax in this fresh, modern and light room whilst sipping on Groot Constantia wines that are made the old fashioned way – with attention to detail, to exacting standards, with pure ingredients that are harvested by hand and packaged in bottles labelled with the historical label.
This is the only wine farm that is a member of the Big Six tourist destinations in Cape Town (the other members include Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront, Robben Island, Kirstenbosch and Cape Point) and it is easy to see why when you visit and spend time at this special National Monument.
Groot Constantia is always running special offers for children and seniors and anyone arriving at the estate on the red double-decker City Sightseeing Wine Tour bus, which is offered as a free extension of the Blue Mini Peninsula tour to anyone interested, automatically gets a R5 discount off the regular price of all tours and tastings.