As a wine lover I enjoy nothing more than visiting wine estates to sample fine wines, soak up the atmosphere and immerse myself in their tangible sense of history. As most Cape wine estates have been in existence for at least two centuries, I especially love that the original buildings and homesteads on most estates are not only still standing, but are in pristine condition and that the traditions of yesteryear still remain.
Nowhere is this truer than at Groot Constantia, South Africa’s oldest wine producing farm, with an uninterrupted record of production since its inception in 1685 and, which this year boasts a proud heritage of 330 legendary years.
In celebration of this auspicious commemoration, they hosted a “Welcome in of the grapes” event on 2 February, and I was truly honoured to be invited to join the Groot Constantia staff, harvesters and wine maker in watching the first harvest of the year coming in from the vineyards and being processed.
The pride and passion I witnessed today made me realise that every bottle of wine we drink is produced not only with hard work and a little kindness from Mother Nature, but also with pride, dedication and a real love of the grape and the land.
And it is perhaps this unwavering passion and dedication over all the years that makes Groot Constantia a favourite with wine lovers around the world and has won them 76 gold medals for a variety of wines during the last 10 years alone.
In fact, throughout its history, Groot Constantia has been supplying the international aristocracy with fine wines, including Louis Phillipe (King of the French), the British Royal family and Frederic the Great of Prussia. Notably, a glass of Groot Constantia wine was one of Napoleon’s last wishes before he died in exile on St Helena.
And I can’t say that I blame the man. I have spent many a happy afternoon at Groot Constantia, basking in the warm sunshine whilst sipping the nectar of the gods. The downside, of course, is that with wine so good, it’s very difficult to say no to another glass and far too easy to just keep right on sipping. Especially in such beautiful surroundings where all you hear is the whisper of the wind through centuries-old oaks and the happy quacking of the ducks in the pond.