Having safely left the kids with daddy day care, I recently had the privilege of visiting Groot Constantia for the very first time with a close friend and colleague. We ventured onto the grounds, determined to leave the pressures of the past week behind and enjoy the freedom and possibilities of a mom’s morning off.
A wave of nostalgia immediately washed over me as we entered the premises to the oldest wine producing estate in South Africa (established in 1685) on a sunny and windless, mid-winter’s Saturday morning. As the morning progressed, I could think of no better way to refer to the experience other than the sense of having taken a journey through time.
We had our minds set on at least two of the activities (of which both of course involved drinking award-winning wines). We proceeded straight to the cellar to book a cellar tour, which starts every hour on the hour (between 10am and 4pm) and to enquire about the chocolate and wine pairing (two of our favourite things combined in one activity – bonus), but first on our itinerary was filling our stomachs with some yummy.
Having been blessed with perfectly sunny and windless weather in the middle of July, we chose to sit outside. As the happy buzz of the locals and tourists travelled to our ears, I once again marvelled at the beauty of our province.
Overlooking a green lawn with kids gleefully running under the beautiful historic oak trees, and then suddenly, drinking in of what seems like an endlessly beautiful view over False bay. And just in case you didn’t know: Your four-legged kids are also welcome to join you, provided they are on a leash. Jonkershuis kindly also provides water bowls for them. It truly is the perfect family setting.
Although a wide variety of wines are on offer at Jonkershuis, we patriotically decided to order the Groot Constantia 2012 Pinotage. This wine explodes with the scent of bright red fruit, black berries, liquorice, cinnamon and spice on the nose. The black fruit and spice follow through on the palate, showing an abundance of fruit flavours). Aka BLISS.
We each enjoyed a delicious meal from a vast, yet approachable menu which included everything from traditional Cape Malay dishes, through to seafood and pasta. Suitably filled and suffering from PDS (puppy dog syndrome), I was now ready for an early afternoon nap, but the next item on the itinerary was calling.
Run by the friendly and informative staff of Iziko Museums, the visit to this historic landmark was truly a rich lesson in the heritage of its former inhabitants, which included Simon van der Stel and the Cloete era.
The history runs further back than the available space to write about it, but the high beds with its thick feather duvets, together with the aroma of stately, but old wooden furniture and the huge fireplace (where we imagine most of the house’s activity would’ve taken place) absolutely succeeds in transporting you back to a time when beds were warmed by slaves with coals in copper pans and babies slept in handcrafted rocking cribs.
Walking out of the house and making our way to the modern cellar, we felt like travellers through the sands of time.
As if the day had not felt pre-ordered enough, we also fell on the luck of somewhat of an exclusive cellar tour. The guide’s knowledge of the history and winemaking process was impressive, but her obvious passion for the subject is what kept us engaged throughout, making the cellar tour another commendable highlight.
And then there was chocolate and wine
We could think of no better way to end the day (or any day for that matter) than by pairing five delectable wines with fine chocolates of equal superior standing – each especially crafted in collaboration with Boela Gerber, Groot Constantia’s winemaker.
To give you an idea of this taste explosion, we’ll indulge you by describing one of them:
Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc: Flavours of ripe fruit like granadilla and kiwi fruit, mixed with a green herbaceous character, which follows on the palate and is balanced by the fresh acidity.
Tropical Guava White Chocolate: Creamy white chocolate lifts the tropical guava, papaya and hints of granadilla bouquet of the wine. Showcasing succulent summer fruit – a delightfully clean palate follows through in a crisp cool finish. Invigoratingly fresh and fruity!
Our verdict: One of five matches made in heaven, ending off the perfect day.