I recently visited a very beautiful place, and just being there made me fall in love with the Cape Winelands and our history of wine-making all over again. Can you believe that I have been living in the Cape since 2008, and this was my very first visit to the Constantia wine valley!
Anyhow, what an inspiring place to begin at the beginning, where sophisticated modern-day wine-making techniques meet 1685 Simon van der Stel old-school era. And although the place is dripping in sweet Grand Constance history, the day we visited, the place was alive with activity and people, in an elegantly “families chilling under ancient Oak trees” kind of way – there were even a few hounds sniffing around.
My dutch cousin and I were greeted by the award-winning, friendly and very down-to-earth winemaker, Boela Gerber, as he was ushering in some timeously harvested grapes, in fears of the weather man’s rain prediction.
Boela welcomed us into his cellar, which was in full swing and we got a personalised guided tour.
Here’s some pics of me and Boela, in some punchdown action with an experimental barrel of Shiraz.
After the cellar tour, we were treated to a select tasting of sophisticated yet deliciously easy drinking wines – my favourites being the Gouverneurs Reserve Red and the Grand Constance dessert wines. The Grand Constance wine is an exact replica in recipe and bottle of the Constantia wines of yesteryear. Some telling clues including a piece of broken glass found by an American citizen in 2004 bearing the words “Constantia Wyn” on it, helped the clever people at Groot Constantia to design and deliver to you a treasured reproduction of the famous sweet wine that Napoleon quaffed down by the boat loads, while he felt sorry for himself in exile.
After we were done wine tasting, we wandered around inside the Manor House, which was Simon van der Stel’s impressive home with lots of old and interesting artefacts and artworks to behold. My dutch cousin was in awe as he recognised and identified with the sheer uh, well, “Hollands” of it all.
My cousin and I really enjoyed our time at GC, and I think that you’ve just got to experience it for yourself… You can check out their website for more clues on what you too can do at Groot Constantia