If you know South African wines, you’ve probably heard of Stellenbosch or even Franschhoek — these tend to be the valleys most commonly associated with wines from the Cape. But there are also plenty of other routes worth exploring, such as the lush Constantia Valley, located just 15 minutes from Cape Town’s city centre.
It’s here that you’ll find the oldest vineyard in the southern hemisphere: Groot Constantia Estate (it dates back to 1685). This is the home of South Africa’s first wine farm, but that’s not the only reason to visit, as over the years it has continued to produce quantities of superior, award-winning wines. But before proceeding to the cellars for a tour and wine tasting, you may want to walk the grounds and visit the old Dutch manor and carriage museum to get a taste of Cape life in the 17th century.
Next door is the boutique estate of High Constantia, where you can taste their famed bubbly while sitting on the packing room step.
Higher up the Constantia Mountain, the estate at Eagles Nest beckons. Situated next to a mountain stream, amid elegant pines, it’s a perfect spot for sitting on the lawn and idling away your tasting time looking for the elusive African fish eagles.
Still higher and on the crest of Constantia Nek, Beau Constantia, with its modern cellars, overlooks the valley and offers arcing views of Stellenbosch and over the False Bay coast to Cape Hangklip. This relatively new vineyard is justly proud of its premium range of reds.
Klein Constantia is truly old world wine, sought out by European kings in the early 19th century. Even Napoleon, Louis Phillipe, and Frederick the Great were known to have drank it. Amid all their great offerings, Klein Constantia is most famed for its desert wine, Vin de Constance.
Finally, Buitenverwachting is another historical farm and originally an off-shoot of the Groot Constantia Estate. It’s surrounded by mountains, trees, and beautiful gardens, and produces an excellent array of award-winning wines. Both Buitenverwachting and Groot Constantia have fine dining restaurants and also offer picnic lunches in summer.