Groot Constantia was established in 1685 by Simon van der Stel, then governor of the Cape, who reputedly named it after his daughter Constancia and planted the Cape's first vines. A century later the Cloete family put Constantia on the international map with a dessert wine that became the favored tipple of the likes of Napoleon, Bismarck, King Louis Philippe of France, and Jane Austen. An outbreak of phylloxera in the 1860s bankrupted the family, however, and the land lay fallow until 1975, when substantial replanting began. Today Groot Constantia is known for its reds, particularly the Gouverneurs Reserve. In addition to tasting the wines in the modern cellars here, you can visit a small museum showing the history of the manor, as well as the beautiful Cape Dutch house itself, furnished in beautiful late-18th-century Cape Dutch furniture. Behind the house are the old cellars, originally designed by French architect Louis Thibault; note the celebrated pediment sculpted by Anton Anreith in 1791. The cellars now contain an interesting museum of wine. A cozy, pleasant restaurant, Jonkershuis (tel. 021/794-6255), serves traditional Cape Malay dishes, and Simons (tel. 021/794-1143) -- surrounded by vineyards and lawns -- is where the locals can be found quaffing from the extensive wine list and marveling at the pinkness of the seared tuna or lamb.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010