In the eighteenth and nineteenth, Constantia wine, known as Vin de Constance, was legendary throughout the world. Produced in South Africa’s Cape, then a Dutch colony, this luscious, unfortified wine made from Muscat Blanc commanded high prices and was revered by many. Indeed, it achieved greater fame than many of Europe’s most celebrated wines with Europe’s crowned heads.
This prestigious wine was produced at a descendant of the Constantia Estate just outside Cape Town, founded by the Cape’s first Dutch governor, Simon van der Stel, so plays an important role in the history of the Cape winelands. This sweet wine’s quality and fame gradually declined later in the nineteenth century and was only revived in the 1980s by Klein Constantia, who recreated this legend and now produces a successful dessert wine from shrivelled Muscat de Fronignan grapes, also known as Vin de Constance. So, visitors to the historic Klein Constantia estate can taste a piece of South Africa’s wine history.
Constantia is perhaps one of the most spectacular and atmospheric wine destinations in the world, with its beautiful old buildings nestling in the lush green foothills of the Constantiaberg, part of the Table Mountain range, kissed by warm South African sun and caressed by cool sea breezes from nearby False Bay.
Constantia’s alluring white-washed wine farms also represent a piece of Cape wine history, considered by many to be the cradle of winemaking in the Cape. These beautiful Cape Dutch style buildings, some of which date back to the end of the 17th century, surrounded by well-tended lawns, gardens and verdant vineyards are the perfect backdrop to taste some of the modern Constantia wine. Most boast atmospheric restaurants, tasting rooms and even small museums where the visitor can get an insight into Constantia wine history. Constantia is perhaps one of the most spectacular and atmospheric wine destinations in the world, with its beautiful old buildings nestling in the lush green foothills of the Constantiaberg, part of the Table Mountain range, kissed by warm South African sun and caressed by cool sea breezes from nearby False Bay. Stunning modern boutique wineries contrast sharply with this rural idyll and create a unique blend of eclectic architecture in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Many of the handful of wineries in Constantia now also produce their own version of sweet Vin de Constance, which has unfortunately not yet achieved quite the same prestige as its predecessor. However, its premium, dry still and sparkling wines are attracting increasing international attention for their elegance and poise.
Cool breezes from False Bay blow through Constantia’s vineyards, ensuring the vineyards are well aerated and healthy. Sauvignon Blanc feels particularly at home here on the slopes of Constantiaberg, providing cooling altitude and guaranteeing that the grapes maintain fresh acidity and great varietal character. The Cape’s abundant fresh fish and seafood are a match made in heaven for this refreshing, zingy wine. Crunchy Pinot Noir and creamy Chardonnay go into the South African traditional method sparkler, Cap Classique, which makes a perfect aperitif, sipped on the well-tended lawn of a Constantia wine farm. And Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, happier on the lower slopes, where they profit from longer hours of sunshine, are blended into powerful, fruit-driven Bordeaux Blends, ideal for enjoying at a typical South African barbecue, the braai, which should be an unforgettable part of your Constantia food and wine experience.
Just a quarter of an hour’s drive from the attractions of Cape Town’s city centre, visiting the sensational Constantia wine ward is a great way to escape the bustle of the city. A day exploring its unique blend of heritage and innovation set in a world-renowned floral kingdom, an afternoon wine tasting or simply a delicious evening meal, Constantia’s unique charms are sure to entice you to stay longer. Our local experts at Wine Paths can craft a unique Constantia wine experience in this most enticing of destinations.
If you're interested in one of our South Africa Wine Tours, please visit this link.