Discover South Africa’s Oldest Wine Estate
Dating back to the late 17th century, Groot Constantia is the oldest wine estate in South Africa and is listed as a heritage site in the Western Cape Province. Located in the Constantia suburb of Cape Town, Groot Constantia continues to operate as a highly successful wine estate, winning a total of 66 Gold medals in the past decade, many of which were awarded at international wine shows.
The grounds upon which Groot Constantia is situated were granted to Simon van der Stel, the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, in 1685 by an administrator of the Dutch East India Company, Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede. Van der Stel built the house and established a vineyard, as well as fruit and vegetable gardens and land for raising cattle. Records indicate that by 1709 there were up to 70,000 vines growing on the farm, with substantial quantities of wine being produced.
Following the death of van der Stel in June 1712, the farm was divided into three parts and auctioned off. The part with the homestead on it was bought by Oloff Bergh, who reportedly neglected the farm’s vineyards. Following his death, his wife had ownership of the property, followed by Carl Georg Wieser, who reestablished the vineyards and started making wine again. When Wieser died in 1759, Groot Constantia was bought by his stepson, Jacobus van der Spuij, who later sold it to Jan Serrurier. Hail damage and poor crops resulted in Serrurier selling the now neglected farm to Hendrik Cloete.
Cloete immediately started making changes at Groot Constantia, building a wine cellar on the edge of the valley behind the homestead. This building, with its intricate Rococo sculpture above the doorway, remains one of the focal features of Groot Constantia. It is thought that the sculpture, which depicts fertility and has the date of 1791 on it, is the work of German sculptor Anton Anreith. Other buildings constructed at the time include a number of buildings referred to as the Jonkershuise complex. It appears that these may have been slave quarters in the past.
Visitors to Groot Constantia can enjoy a cellar tour, wine tasting, perusing and buying art by local artists, exploring the Orientation Center and viewing the collection of antique furniture and other items at the Groot Constantia Homestead.