Constantia wine region information
The Constantia wine region in affluent Constantia is one of South Africa’s most historic and prestigious wine-growing areas. Situated approximately 15 kilometres south of central Cape Town in the Western Cape, it is home to more than 10 active wine farms. Nine of these form part of the Constantia Wine Route. The wine farms extend across Constantia Valley, which lies to the east of the Constantiaberg mountain.
Constantia is famous for its flavourful high-quality wines. Prior to the 20th century, the area was celebrated for its Vin de Constance, a sweet dessert wine from Muscat de Frontignan grapes. Napoleon Bonaparte consumed many litres of it in the years leading up to his death. These days, the world recognises Constantia as a top producer of not only Muscat Blanc dessert wines but also premium Sauvignon Blanc and Bordeaux Blends.
Production of wine aside, the Cape’s Constantia has become a sought-after residential area over the years. The leafy suburb has beautiful family homes, excellent schools and top-notch amenities. It provides extraordinary views and has many adventurous and enjoyable activities suitable for both children and adults. Constantia is big on wine tasting and cuisine (especially fine dining) and tourist accommodation is superb.
Constantia wine region – wine tasting rooms and estates
The “cradle of winemaking in Cape Town”, Constantia, has a long history of wine manufacturing. In fact, the wine estates in this region saw the production of some of South Africa’s very first wines. Their legacy brings to light the admirable passion of the estate founders and personnel and their indisputable ability to create world-class wines that people love. The aromatic wines are delightful, as many have come to discover.
Due to the variety that exists within the wine region of Constantia, there’s a wine to satisfy most palates. The area’s assortment of estates, shops and wine tasting rooms make available various exclusive wine specialties (often paired with food) for visitors to enjoy as they take in splendid vistas. For those who appreciate aged wines, there are vintage tasting rooms. Estates will generally sell wine directly to the public.
Constantia Wine Route estates
This is the oldest wine estate in the Constantia wine region. It was established in 1685 by the VOC Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, Simon van der Stel. Groot Constantia is notable for its old-world-charm and Dutch architecture. It has a Cape Dutch Manor House, a wine museum and a cultural history museum, and visitors can relish wine and chocolate tastings. The estate produces award-winning dessert wine, specifically Grand Constance, as well as blends such as Constantia Cabernet Sauvignon and Gouverneurs Reserve Red.
Klein Constantia Wine Estate was born from its parent estate, Groot Constantia, and features lovely vineyards and scenery. The estate is set on the upper foothills of the Constantiaberg amidst lush greenery and longstanding trees, bestowing great views of Constantia Valley and False Bay. There’s a bistro on the property that offers a unique wine and food experience. Klein Constantia produces a top-shelf Estate range, an approachable KC variety, Vin de Constance and the premium red blends Anwilka and Petit Frère.
Buitenverwachting is an attractive wine farm on the slopes of the magnificent Constantiaberg facing the east. It is located about 12 kilometres from False Bay. Buitenverwachting is historical, originally forming part of Simon van der Stel’s Constantia Estate. The wine estate has been owned and cherished by several families. The fresh, full-body Sauvignon Blancs and reds that it produces today are the result of this and the area’s unique cool climate. The restaurant and coffee shop at Buitenverwachting serve delicious food, coffee and treats.
Uitsig Constantia gets its name for its position in Constantia Valley. The wine farm nestles between the east-facing slopes of Constantiaberg and False Bay. Here, glorious vineyards and mountains stretch on for yonks. Due to its position, climate and growing conditions, Constantia Uitsig specialises in producing white wines, particularly Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. On wine tastings, these are paired with an artisanal cheese and charcuterie platters. There is a restaurant, bike park and heritage market in Uitsig.
The other wine estates that make up the Constantia Wine Route are Eagles’ Nest, Constantia Glen, Silvermist Vineyards, Steenberg and Beau Constantia. All of these offer exclusive wine tasting experiences.
History of winemaking in Constantia
Winemaking is an age-old practice in Constantia that dates back well over 300 years. Constantia is so large and fertile that it gave birth to multiple wine estates. Simon van de Stel’s influence and actions brought about the foundations of Groot Constantia. During the years that followed, the estate expanded, and today the Constantia wine region is a wine-making wonderland that stimulates the senses of wine lovers worldwide.
Constantia’s wines grew in popularity in the 18th century, thanks to prominent royals, aristocrats and icons. They fell in love with the sweet crisp wine, then called Constantia Wyn. Simon van de Stel manufactured the first Constantia Wyn in the late 1600s. In the 1720s, Johannes Colijn took over, producing it in the cellar at Hoop op Constantia. Later, the wines were produced in the Cloete Cellar. It still stands at Groot Constantia.
In the 1880s, an outbreak of grape phylloxera devastated the Cape’s vineyards. After this event, the production of sweet Constantia wines continued. However, on a very small scale. Then, in 1980, a new wine beginning dawned, with Duggie Jooste purchasing Klein Constantia. He collaborated with winemaker Ross Gower and Professor Chris Orferr to re-create the early Constantia wines made from Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains.
Things to do in Constantia
Constantia is amongst the Western Cape’s greenest areas, with gorgeous fields sprawling on for kilometres and miles. The vineyards open up to meet the mountainous backdrop, painting the perfect picture of nature on any day. A visit to the naturally gifted area provides a lot of opportunities to explore the beautiful surrounds, go on wine tasting tours through wine farms in Constantia and engage in a range of pleasurable activities.
A selection of bars, music festivals, live shows and eateries exist in and around Constantia. For those looking to wind down and relax, the Constantia wine region has wellness spas and cultural and outdoor activities. Outside activities are always a good option because of the region’s incredible beauty. Whether you are walking, cycling, running, hiking, having a picnic or touring a nature reserve, you’re bound to enjoy yourself.
The wine region of Constantia is a nature lover’s delight and the cellar wine tours are fantastic. A Constantia wine tour takes visitors deep into the world of winemaking. On a guided Constantia Wine Route tour (you will want to book through a reputable tour company), you learn about the history of the region and its estates and wines. You also get to sample the appetising flavours and smells of delectable wines and foods.
Constantia Cape Town Accommodation
As mentioned, Constantia offers terrific accommodation. Options include five-star luxury hotels such as The Last Word Constantia, Nova Constantia and Silvermist Mountain Lodge and boutique hotels such as Cellars Hohenort, The Andros and others. In addition, there are numerous guest houses, bed and breakfasts and affordable self-catering accommodations. You won’t struggle to find a place to stay in Constantia.
The Constantia Wine Route is a short distance and drive from central Cape Town. Therefore, visitors to the Constantia wine region will often stay in their accommodation in Cape Town rather than relocating to Constantia. Tourists also have the option of staying in scenic Camps Bay, which is about 25 minutes from Constantia Valley. This area is well known for its upmarket accommodation and stunning beaches.
Getting to Constantia from Cape Town
Because Constantia is near to downtown Cape Town, travelling between the two destinations is quick and convenient. This is one reason why Constantia is a desirable suburb to reside in. Of course, the proximity also suits those planning to stay in temporary accommodations. Scouting for a venue for a special occasion? Constantia won’t disappoint, whether it’s a wedding, an anniversary, a birthday party or a work function.
Getting to Constantia from Cape Town central is quite simple and there are a few different routes that drivers can take. The shortest metropolitan route is via the M3 but travellers can also easily reach their destination using the M63 or the N2. Motorists will typically reach Constantia in under 30 minutes with either route. If there is a lot of traffic on the roads and/or if there aren’t roadworks in progress, then it could take longer.