Not many cities in the world can boast having a major wine route – and world famous at that – right in one of their suburbs. The whole valley was granted to Simon van der Stel way back in 1685 by his friend Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede of the Dutch East India Company. Simon named it after Hendrik’s daughter, Constanza, as a token of his esteem. When it came to cultivating the land, Simon found a match made in heaven for his vines and the growing market of passing ships at the Cape assured a good steady income.
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Today Constantia is a world of magnificent wine estates, very expensive real estate, and vineyards that slope from the mountains to the valley, with the distant sea at False Bay constantly in view.
Be aware when you visit that most of the estates charge a tasting fee which is usually waived on purchase of a certain number of wines.
This is the granddaddy of them all. Here you will find the fabulous prize winning wines of Boela Gerber, including his magnificent Chardonnay and the iconic Grand Constance, a superb, specially packaged Muscat charmer. There are two restaurants on the estate, both serving unintimidating Cape comfort food and various platters. The magnificent Manor House Museum is packed with antiques, while a tour of the historic Cloete Cellar is a must – luckily there are guided tours on the hour from 10am to 4pm. The Visitor’s Route Experience which can be bought on site gives you a perfect way to do it all.
For more information and to book a tour, visit grootconstantia.co.za.
When Simon Van der Stel died in 1712 leaving no heirs at the Cape, the original Constantia was, very much like Julius Caesar and Gaul, divided into three parts: Bergvliet, Groot Constantia and Klein Constantia. Today this gorgeous place is the home of some of the finest Sauvignon Blancs in the country as well as a fabulous bubbly, a 100% Chardonnay knockout. Here too you will find the classic Vin De Constance – a fabled and fabulous treasure if ever there was one. The modern tasting canter is a pleasure to visit.
For more infomation, visit kleinconstantia.com.
It’s the home of not one but two great restaurants. The glass walls of Bistro Sixteen82 open onto great pools of water and rolling green grass – very inviting on a scorching summer’s day. Catharina’s Restaurant pays homage to its owner Catharina Ras with a classic and upmarket design. The tasting room is a delight, modern and well run with knowledgeable staff to move it all along. The wines are great – don’t miss the superb bubblies and the pricey but fabulous white blend, Magna Carta.
Visit steenbergfarm.com for more information.
Silvermist Organic Wine Estate
Spectacularly situated as one goes down the Nek into Hout Bay, heavily forested with glorious views, one could almost be on another planet – one where all is well. The home of the world famous La Colombe restaurant and a wonderful hotel, this is the perfect place to get away from it all and spoil yourself and someone special. Oh yes – there is wine as well, especially a delicious Sauvignon Blanc.
For more info, visit silvermistfarm.co.za.
Located right at the top of the Nek looking down onto the valley, this wine estate’s name is more than apt. Its views will take your breath away, while the atmosphere is just the place to take your tie off and let the cares of the world melt away. Tasting their award winning wines with one of their excellent platters to make it really special with some friends is the way to go here. The reds here are not to be missed.
Visit eaglesnestwines.com for more information.
As hackneyed as it might seem, the views once again are worth the price of admission as they sweep as far as the eye can see. The tasting room is a delight, modern and full of light. Flammküchen, delicious salads, and cheese and charcuterie platters accompany the wine tasting so you will not go hungry. Fabulous award winning red and white blends are the stars of the show here with the Constantia Glen TWO, a superb Bordeaux style blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, taking pride of place.
For more information, visit constantiaglen.com.
This is the home of the excellent Open Door Restaurant, a beautifully modern and fine dining experience that doesn’t get too precious for its own good. The tasting of the large range of wines takes place at the Heritage Market on the property. There are two options to the tastings and excellent platters of cheese and charcuterie to accompany them. Don’t miss the wooded Semillon, a knockout, and the irresistible Red Muscat d’Alexandrie—a fortified treasure.
Visit uitsig.co.za for more information.
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This historic estate features an excellent fine dining restaurant as well as an easy going coffee shop. Enjoy a sophisticated menu of quail confit leg, pan fried duck breast and fillet steak with Café de Paris butter at Buitenverwachting Restaurant. The Coffee BloC goes back to basics with sticky pork ciabattas and hamburgers. Winemaker Brad Paton’s fabulous – and extensive – range of wines features spectacular reds like the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, breathtaking wooded Chardonnay as well as a honeyed Late Harvest with a tang to rein in all that sweetness.
For more information, visit buitenverwachting.com.
Once again views are what will get you here but the main reason to visit is for the home of the Constantia branch of Chef’s Warehouse, chef Liam Tomlinson’s iconic range of eateries. The sublime food here is under the sure hand of chef Ivor Jones who makes sure that every plate that goes out is picture perfect and tastes even better than it looks. The tasting room for their great wines is situated above the restaurant so the view is – dare I say it? – even better from there.
Visit beauconstantia.com for more information.
Words Greg Landman
As the wine writer for Country Life magazine for the last 15 years, Greg has met and interviewed more than 150 of the country’s top wine makers. His articles offer unique insights into where to eat, what to drink, and where to go all over the Western Cape. With his dining companion Beryl Ormsby Browne, he has also reviewed more than 60 country restaurants for the magazine and has been a reviewer for the prestigious Eat Out Guide for 12 years. His passion for everything the winelands has to offer has led him into the world of wine tours. To find out more, visit his website Magic Grape Tours.