OUR LEGACY

OUR HISTORY

It takes years to build a legacy, even decades, in our case centuries.

OUR LEGACY

OUR HISTORY

It takes years to build a legacy, even decades, in our case centuries.

History tells us that in 1679 Simon van der Stel was appointed by the Dutch East India Company to govern the Cape of Good Hope. After years of loyal service, he requested land from the Company. He periodically sent out riders to collect soil samples in order to explore. In 1685 he fell in love with the soil and chose 891 morgen (about 763 ha) situated behind Table Mountain for its wine-growing potential and magnificently beautiful scenery. Over the years the wines produced on the estate caught the attention of influential people across the globe – due to its impressive quality.

Groot Constantia’s rich history shows how one man’s love of wine established South Africa’s first wine farm more than 330 years ago and how those 891 morgen of land formed the origins of the commercial South African wine industry, with Emperors and Kings such as Frederick the Great of Prussia  and Louis Phillipe (King of the French) buying ‘Constantia Wyn’ at auctions across Europe.

South Africa’s oldest wine became so celebrated globally, that it appears in Jane Austen’s novel ‘Sense and Sensibility’ as a cure for a broken heart to be drunk to lift a character’s spirit as in ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ by Charles Dickens.

GOVERNOR SIMON VAN DER STEL OF THE DUTCH EAST INDIA COMPANY (VOC)

Arrived at the Cape supply station in 1679. Estranged from his wife he arrived in the company of his children and sister-in-law, Cornelia Six. Back in the Netherlands Van der Stel had gained a solid background in viticulture at his vineyards in Muiderbergh. The art of wine and brandy making he learnt there he would soon implement here in the Cape.

COMMISSIONER RIJCKLOFF VAN GOENS

A former governor of Ceylon and Council Member of India visited the Cape while recuperating from an illness. He recommended to the Chamber of Seventeen, the governing body of the VOC, that land should be granted to Simon van der Stel. After a visit by High Commissioner Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede tot Drakenstein, Van der Stel received title to 891 morgen (about 763 hectares) on 13th July 1685. The land stretched southwards to the neighbouring free burgher farms of Steenberg and Zwaanswyk and to the north it reached as far as the wooded area named The Hell.

VAN DER STEL NAMED HIS FARM CONSTANTIA

It is thought that Van der Stel named the farm after Van Goens’ daughter in recognition of his help and support in obtaining the farmland. Another theory is that the farm was named after the VOC ship “Constantia”. It is most likely that he named the farm after the Latin word for constancy or steadfastness, attributes Van der Stel valued greatly.

THE ORIGINAL MANOR HOUSE

It appears to have been designed in a late Dutch Renaissance style. The traveller Francois Valentijn (1666-1727) described it as a double storey dwelling with two or three steps leading to a front room or voorhuis, paved with white marble and red stone. An interesting fact is that there was a big pentagon in the shape of the Castle of Good Hope tiled into the centre of the floor. On both sides of the voorhuis were grand rooms, also with white marble floors.

A legendary vineyard is born

Agricultural activities at Groot Constantia included viticulture and our Constantia wines story became renowned in
Europe. In 1709 there were 70 000 vines on the farm and Van der Stel produced 5,630 litres of wine. While the ownership of Groot Constantia changed over the years, the legacy and supremacy of the wines produced remained.

A legendary vineyard is born

Agricultural activities at Groot Constantia included viticulture and our Constantia wines story became renowned in
Europe. In 1709 there were 70 000 vines on the farm and Van der Stel produced 5,630 litres of wine. While the ownership of Groot Constantia changed over the years, the legacy and supremacy of the wines produced remained.

Historic Factsheet

Since 1685, Simon van der Stel arrived in Table Bay and land was granted to him. Take a journey back in time with us as we explore these important dates.

linedash

The historic bath, homestead, Jonkershuis complex, and wine cellar are restored by architects Revel Fox & Partners. The project is completed in 1994.

AN0060 GC Website FA_timeline

Restoration of the pediment gable of the Cloete cellar.

Land is granted to Van der Stel, which he names Constantia.

Van der Stel retires as Governor of the Cape.

On 24 June 1712 Simon van der Stel died at the age of 73 and made his last will in favour of his five children. Constantia should be sold two years after his death and some of the slaves were to be set free. Ironically, by 1712 his sons Willem Adriaan and Frans were no longer living in the Cape.

Constantia was subdivided and sold by way of auction. Pieter de Meijer bought two parts, Bergvliet and Klein Constantia (currently known as De Hoop op Constantia). Captain Oloff Bergh bought the part where the Van der Stel buildings were situated which was later known as Groot Constantia.

On 13 November 1716 Oloff Bergh officially took possession of Groot Constantia. He was born in Goteborg, Sweden in 1643. He joined the VOC in 1665 spending a few years as a soldier in Ceylon and arrived as a sergeant at the Cape in 1676. He met Anna de Koningh at the Cape; they fell in love and got married. The union produced 11 children. 

Oloff Bergh died and his wife Anna de Koningh became the first female owner of Groot Constantia. She was born in Batavia and was one of three children from the slave Angela of Bengal.

Carl Georg Wieser became the new owner of Groot Constantia on 9 August 1734, he proceeded to further develop Groot Constantia. He increased the viticulture activities and by 1751 had 60 000 vines from which 16,890 litres of wine were produced.

Jacobus van der Spuij, Wieser’s stepson purchased Groot Constantia.
On 8 June that same year van der Spuij also had to borrow money toward the purchase of the farm and the additional expenses of slaves and wooden caskets. Like his predecessors, he had to supply wine to the VOC, which resulted in financial problems

On 15 January the farm was sold to Jan Serrurier– three months later Jacobus van der Spuij died. Hail damage to the vineyards and the resulting poor crop contributed to the poor state of the farm and made the ownership of Serrurier short-lived.
Eleven months after he bought it, the farm had a new owner and the fortunes of the farm were to change.

The Cloete Era – In December 1778 Hendrik Cloete, from the farm Nooitgedacht near Stellenbosch, became the new owner of Groot Constantia. The Cloete family lived up to the estate’s founder Simon van der Stel’s value of constancy, making the estate their home for five generations.

Outbreak of the French Revolution, which lasts until Napoleon seizes power in 1799.

Hendrick Cloete was married to Hester Anna Lourens and together they had 11 children. Cloete purchased all the moveable property and the 16 slaves originally belonging to Van der Spuij. He added another 16 slaves to help clear up the neglected farm. By 1792 all the new building work had been completed and after 14 years the farm had been given a whole new appearance.

Probably the first building to be erected was the wine cellar. It was set behind the homestead on the edge of the valley aligned with the central axis of the house. The sculpture on the pediment of the wine cellar is believed to be the work of the German sculptor Anton Anreith (1754 – 1822). It depicts fertility and, although Rococo in design, the sculpture blends well with the neo-classicism of the building. The date 1791 on the sculpture could indicate its year of completion, but another theory is that Hendrik Cloete commissioned it to commemorate the excellent grape harvest he had in that specific year. Whatever the reason, it is regarded as one of the most important sculptures in the country.

The row of outbuildings in front of the farmstead on the western side is known as the Jonkershuis complex. This is where the “Jonkheer” or oldest son of the farm owner would have lived. However, these buildings probably served as slave quarters and stables, and were most probably called “Jongenhuijs” meaning House of the young men. They also had wolf-nose gables: the present bell gable changes were made in the early 19th century.

The gallery of the Jonkershuis complex was widened and the original flat roofs replaced with a pitched thatch roof. New stone floors were also put in the house, but it is not clear what they looked like.

The slender gables of the Manor House were added, as well as the figure of “Abundance” in the niche of the main gable. The ornamental vases on the side gables were also added. As with the wine cellar, Thibault and Anreith are regarded as the architect and sculptor responsible for the work on the Manor House.

The oval-shaped pool northwest of the farmstead, with its sculpted figure of “Triton” half man, half fish, son of Neptune was probably built at a later stage. The inferior quality of its construction in comparison with the farm’s other buildings point to this. The original “Triton” was replaced with a fibreglass copy in 1985 in order to preserve the original.

New vines were also planted to replace the neglected ones and the VOC requested that Hendrik Cloete increase the farm’s production. By 1780 he had already planted 10 000 new vines. From 1780 Hendrik Cloete made the wine himself. Apparently his new cellar was one of the best in the Cape.

He too had to sell two-thirds of his wine to the VOC, but by 1794 he came to a better arrangement with them. After the British occupation of the Cape in 1795, he had to deliver wine to the British command at the Cape. For Hendrik Cloete, only the name of the wine monopolist had changed.

Hendrik’s wife died and she was buried in the family graveyard at Groot Constantia. Hendrik Cloete left the farm to live at Nooitgedacht where he died, and his younger son, also Hendrik Cloete, took charge of Groot Constantia and became the eventual new owner.

Disasters strikes the vineyard – Just as through storms trees require strong roots, the same is true for Groot Constantia. From plague to fire, the Groot Constantia Wine Estate has faced many challenges throughout the years, but the values of our founder – constancy and steadfastness – have prevailed.

The First British Occupation of the Cape.

The German poet Friederich Gottlieb Klopstock composes Der Kapwein under Johannesberger, Kapwein being Constantia wine.

Hendrik Cloete (junior) becomes the new owner of Groot Constantia.

The Cape comes under Batavian rule.

The Second British Occupation of the Cape.

Sense and Sensibility, a novel by Jane Austen in which Constantia wine is mentioned, is published.

Napoleon is banished to St Helena after his defeat of Waterloo. On St Helena he was supplied with wine from Groot Constantia until his death in 1821.

The wife of the late Hendrik Cloete, Anna Catharina Scheller, becomes the second woman to own the estate.

Scheller sells the estate to her oldest son, Jacob Pieter Cloete.

Louis Phillipe (King of the French) becomes the biggest buyer ever of Groot Constantia wine.

Slavery is abolished, but slaves are apprenticed to their owners for a four-year period, i.e. Up to 1838.

Silver medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine at the Paris Exhibition.

Les Fleurs du mal is published, a volume of poems by the French poet Charles Baudelaire, in which Sed non satiata praises Constantia wine.

Disaster struck in the form of the wine disease “Oidium Tuckeri” commonly known as powdery mildew. Jacob Cloete’s oldest son Hendrik treated the vines with sulphur and partly succeeded in combatting the disease.

Phylloxera is a root louse that attacks the “vitis vinifera” grapevines, eventually causing their death. A massive infestation of Phylloxera took place in Europe and America at the same time, destroying millions of acres of grapevines. During the plague it was discovered that America’s “vitis labrusca” grapevines were immune to Phylloxera. From that time onwards most “vitis vinifera” grapevines have been grafted onto “vitis labrusca” roots making the vinifera vines highly resistant to Phylloxera.

A 10-year free trade agreement is concluded between Britain and France, under which French wines benefit greatly, to the disadvantage of Cape wine exports, including that of Groot Constantia.

The vine disease Phylloxera, caused by an insect called peritymbiavitifolii, ravages the vineyards of the Cape, including those of Groot Constantia.

Silver medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine at the Paris Exhibition.

Jacob Cloete was bankrupt and could no longer meet his obligations. He appeared in the Cape Supreme Court and was declared insolvent. Jacob left the farm and went to live in Plumstead where he died in 1875. He was buried in the Groot Constantia graveyard. Groot Constantia however was to remain in his estate until 1885.

Two medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine in Vienna

Phylloxera must have been a plague to the Cloete’s for a long time, because in 1875 Henry Cloete left for France to study remedies for the disease. He stayed there for ten years. Henry’s son Freddie acted as farm manager, and his son Jacob managed the estate’s office in Adderley Street, Cape Town.

Two medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine in Philadelphia.

A gold medal is awarded to Groot Constantia wine in Paris.

Six awards are won by Groot Constantia wine in Melbourne.

Henry returned from Europe and it was decided to sell Groot Constantia by auction. On the 1st of October 1885 the Cape Government became the new owner, having bought the farm for a mere £5,275. When compared to the amount of £18,750 paid in 1824, the sad state of the vines on the farm is evident.

The Cape Government used the farm as an experimental wine farm. A setback occurred when Phylloxera invaded the farm once again in 1899. The American wild vine stock was used to combat the plague.

Just before Christmas 1925 a fire gutted the historic farmstead. This probably saved Groot Constantia because the government was forced to take a fresh look at the estate.

The house was restored under the chairmanship of the architect Franklin Kendall. Alfred de Pass, from 1927 until his death in 1952, donated and bought objects for the Manor house and refurbished it.

The homestead is opened as a museum, and Alfred Aaron de Pass starts donating and buying items for the homestead until his death in 1952.

The homestead, with areas surrounding it and all objects thereon, is proclaimed a National Monument by the Minister of the Interior according to Section 8 of the Natural and Historical Monuments, Relics and Antiques Act, 1934, (Act No. 4 of 1934).

In 1963 control of the farm was handed over to the Agricultural Technical Service.

In 1969 the South African Cultural History Museum, presently part of Iziko Museums of Cape Town, became responsible for the running of the farmstead and historic “Cloete” wine cellar.

During 1971 a wine museum was established in a part of the wine cellar by the South African Cultural History Museum. In 1974 this was closed and demolished.

In 1975 Hoop op Constantia and part of Nova Constantia were consolidated with Groot Constantia. An adjoining property, Coleyn, followed in the early 1980s.

The Groot Constantia Control Board is established, which replaces the Department of Agricultural Technical Services as viticultural body on the farm.

The Groot Constantias State Estate, including the Groot Constantia and Hoop op Constantia homesteads and all the outbuildings thereon, are declared a National Monument by the Minister of the Department of National Education according to Section 10 (1) of the War Graves and National Monuments Act, 1969 (Act 28 of 1969).

Ownership of the entire estate was transferred from the government to an independent company named Groot Constantia Trust NPC RF. The main aim of the Company is to preserve and maintain the cultural heritage of the estate for posterity by keeping it in Trust for the Nation.

Restoration of the graveyard.

Renovation to Hoop on Constantia.

Meet the Owners

Meet the owners of the oldest wine farm in South Africa and learn to understand the significance of each era.

1639-1712

Simon van der Stel
Contemporary documents describe Simon van der Stel, the first owner of what is now Groot Constantia, as having been born in Mauritius. In fact, he was born at sea while his parents were on their way to Mauritius from Batavia in 1639. His father, who was in the employ of the Dutch East India Company (VOC, as contracted in Dutch), had been posted there, but was eventually transferred back to Batavia, were Simon remained until the age of 20, having by then lost both parents.

AN0060 GC Website FA_LINE VERTICAL


1716-1734

Oloff Bergh and Anna de Koningh
Oloff Bergh, who took possession of Constantia on 13 November 1716, was born in Göteborg, Sweden, in 1643 and joined the VOC in 1665. He spent a few years in
Ceylon as a soldier and was a sergeant when he arrived at the Cape in 1676.

1734-1778

Carl George Wieser and Jacobus van der Spuij
On 9 August 1734, Groot Constantia was acquired by Carl George Wieser. Wieser, a soldier in the service of the VOC who came from Heidelberg, Germany, arrived at the Cape in 1728. He was promoted to corporal in 1730 and two years later married Johanna Jacoba Colijn, sister of Johannes Colijn, then owner of Klein Constantia. In 1724, Johanna owned a farm at Camps Bay and evidently had some farming  experience. Their only child, a boy, was born in 1732. In the following year, Wieser resigned from the VOC to become a Free Burgher.

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1778

Jan Serrurier
Jan (or Johan) Serrurier, the son of a minister, Louis (or Lodewyk) Serrurier, and Esther de Vis, came from Hanau in the Netherlands. In 1747, he married Catharina Kretzschmar, the widow of Jan van der Swyn, who from 1738 had owned and lived on the farm Alphen, not far from Groot Constantia. Two sons were born from this marriage. In 1755, after Catharina’s death, Serrurier married Geertruyda (baptised 1736), daughter of the wealthy farmer Jacob van Reenen (died 1764), owner of Witteboomen, also near Groot Constantia. They had seven children.


1778-1799

Hendrik Cloete (Senior)
Between 1778 and 1885, three generations of Cloete’s owned Groot Constantia and a total of five Cloete generations were responsible for its viticulture.

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1799-1885

The Cloete Era continues
Hendrik Cloete junior had a close association with the estate starting 1778, the year that his father bought it and had given him the job of farm manager, for which his remuneration was a share of the produce.

1885 – 1993

Government

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1993 till present

Groot Constantia Trust
A non-profit company (NPC) – which means that the farm does not belong to any private individual but is being conserved and protected as a Provincial Heritage site for the South African nation – The Nation’s Estate.

Historic Factsheet

Since 1685, Simon van der Stel arrived in Table Bay and land was granted to him. Take a journey back in time with us as we explore these important dates.

linedash

1685
Land is granted to Van der Stel, which he names Constantia.

1699
Van der Stel retires as Governor of the Cape.

1712
On 24 June 1712 Simon van der Stel died at the age of 73 and made his last will in favour of his five children. Constantia should be sold two years after his death and some of the slaves were to be set free. Ironically, by 1712 his sons Willem Adriaan and Frans were no longer living in the Cape.

1714
Constantia was subdivided and sold by way of auction. Pieter de Meijer bought two parts, Bergvliet and Klein Constantia (currently known as De Hoop op Constantia). Captain Oloff Bergh bought the part where the Van der Stel buildings were situated which was later known as Groot Constantia.

1716
On 13 November 1716 Oloff Bergh officially took possession of Groot Constantia. He was born in Goteborg, Sweden in 1643. He joined the VOC in 1665 spending a few years as a soldier in Ceylon and arrived as a sergeant at the Cape in 1676. He met Anna de Koningh at the Cape; they fell in love and got married. The union produced 11 children.

1724
Oloff Bergh died and his wife Anna de Koningh became the first female owner of Groot Constantia. She was born in Batavia and was one of three children from the slave Angela of Bengal.

1734
Carl Georg Wieser became the new owner of Groot Constantia on 9 August 1734, he proceeded to further develop Groot Constantia. He increased the viticulture activities and by 1751 had 60 000 vines from which 16,890 litres of wine were produced.

1759
Jacobus van der Spuij, Wieser’s stepson purchased Groot Constantia.
On 8 June that same year van der Spuij also had to borrow money toward the purchase of the farm and the additional expenses of slaves and wooden caskets. Like his predecessors, he had to supply wine to the VOC, which resulted in financial problems

1778
On 15 January the farm was sold to Jan Serrurier– three months later Jacobus van der Spuij died. Hail damage to the vineyards and the resulting poor crop contributed to the poor state of the farm and made the ownership of Serrurier short-lived. Eleven months after he bought it, the farm had a new owner and the fortunes of the farm were to change.

1778
The Cloete Era – In December 1778 Hendrik Cloete, from the farm Nooitgedacht near Stellenbosch, became the new owner of Groot Constantia. The Cloete family lived up to the estate’s founder Simon van der Stel’s value of constancy, making the estate their home for five generations.

1789
Outbreak of the French Revolution, which lasts until Napoleon seizes power in 1799.

1792
Hendrick Cloete was married to Hester Anna Lourens and together they had 11 children. Cloete purchased all the moveable property and the 16 slaves originally belonging to Van der Spuij. He added another 16 slaves to help clear up the neglected farm. By 1792 all the new building work had been completed and after 14 years the farm had been given a whole new appearance.

Probably the first building to be erected was the wine cellar. It was set behind the homestead on the edge of the valley aligned with the central axis of the house. The sculpture on the pediment of the wine cellar is believed to be the work of the German sculptor Anton Anreith (1754 – 1822). It depicts fertility and, although Rococo in design, the sculpture blends well with the neo-classicism of the building. The date 1791 on the sculpture could indicate its year of completion, but another theory is that Hendrik Cloete commissioned it to commemorate the excellent grape harvest he had in that specific year. Whatever the reason, it is regarded as one of the most important sculptures in the country.

The row of outbuildings in front of the farmstead on the western side is known as the Jonkershuis complex. This is where the “Jonkheer” or oldest son of the farm owner would have lived. However, these buildings probably served as slave quarters and stables, and were most probably called “Jongenhuijs” meaning House of the young men. They also had wolf-nose gables: the present bell gable changes were made in the early 19th century.

The gallery of the Jonkershuis complex was widened and the original flat roofs replaced with a pitched thatch roof. New stone floors were also put in the house, but it is not clear what they looked like.

The slender gables of the Manor House were added, as well as the figure of “Abundance” in the niche of the main gable. The ornamental vases on the side gables were also added. As with the wine cellar, Thibault and Anreith are regarded as the architect and sculptor responsible for the work on the Manor House.

The oval-shaped pool northwest of the farmstead, with its sculpted figure of “Triton” half man, half fish, son of Neptune was probably built at a later stage. The inferior quality of its construction in comparison with the farm’s other buildings point to this. The original “Triton” was replaced with a fibreglass copy in 1985 in order to preserve the original.

New vines were also planted to replace the neglected ones and the VOC requested that Hendrik Cloete increase the farm’s production. By 1780 he had already planted 10 000 new vines. From 1780 Hendrik Cloete made the wine himself. Apparently his new cellar was one of the best in the Cape.

He too had to sell two-thirds of his wine to the VOC, but by 1794 he came to a better arrangement with them. After the British occupation of the Cape in 1795, he had to deliver wine to the British command at the Cape. For Hendrik Cloete, only the name of the wine monopolist had changed.

1794
Hendrik’s wife died and she was buried in the family graveyard at Groot Constantia. Hendrik Cloete left the farm to live at Nooitgedacht where he died, and his younger son, also Hendrik Cloete, took charge of Groot Constantia and became the eventual new owner.

1794
Disasters strikes the vineyard – Just as through storms trees require strong roots, the same is true for Groot Constantia. From plague to fire, the Groot Constantia Wine Estate has faced many challenges throughout the years, but the values of our founder – constancy and steadfastness – have prevailed.

1795
The First British Occupation of the Cape.

1795
The German poet Friederich Gottlieb Klopstock composes Der Kapwein under Johannesberger, Kapwein being Constantia wine.

1799
Hendrik Cloete (junior) becomes the new owner of Groot Constantia.

1803
The Cape comes under Batavian rule.

1806
The Second British Occupation of the Cape.

1811
Sense and Sensibility, a novel by Jane Austen in which Constantia wine is mentioned, is published.

1815
Napoleon is banished to St Helena after his defeat of Waterloo. On St Helena he was supplied with wine from Groot Constantia until his death in 1821.

1818
The wife of the late Hendrik Cloete, Anna Catharina Scheller, becomes the second woman to own the estate.

1824
Scheller sells the estate to her oldest son, Jacob Pieter Cloete.

1833
Louis Phillipe (King of the French) becomes the biggest buyer ever of Groot Constantia wine.

1834
Slavery is abolished, but slaves are apprenticed to their owners for a four-year period, i.e. Up to 1838.

1855
Silver medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine at the Paris Exhibition.

1857
Les Fleurs du mal is published, a volume of poems by the French poet Charles Baudelaire, in which Sed non satiata praises Constantia wine.

1859
Disaster struck in the form of the wine disease “Oidium Tuckeri” commonly known as powdery mildew. Jacob Cloete’s oldest son Hendrik treated the vines with sulphur and partly succeeded in combatting the disease.

Phylloxera is a root louse that attacks the “vitis vinifera” grapevines, eventually causing their death. A massive infestation of Phylloxera took place in Europe and America at the same time, destroying millions of acres of grapevines. During the plague it was discovered that America’s “vitis labrusca” grapevines were immune to Phylloxera. From that time onwards most “vitis vinifera” grapevines have been grafted onto “vitis labrusca” roots making the vinifera vines highly resistant to Phylloxera.

1860
A 10-year free trade agreement is concluded between Britain and France, under which French wines benefit greatly, to the disadvantage of Cape wine exports, including that of Groot Constantia.

1866
The vine disease Phylloxera, caused by an insect called peritymbiavitifolii, ravages the vineyards of the Cape, including those of Groot Constantia.

1867
Silver medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine at the Paris Exhibition.

1872
Jacob Cloete was bankrupt and could no longer meet his obligations. He appeared in the Cape Supreme Court and was declared insolvent. Jacob left the farm and went to live in Plumstead where he died in 1875. He was buried in the Groot Constantia graveyard.  Groot Constantia however was to remain in his estate until 1885.

1874
Two medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine in Vienna

1875
Phylloxera must have been a plague to the Cloete’s for a long time, because in 1875 Henry Cloete left for France to study remedies for the disease. He stayed there for ten years. Henry’s son Freddie acted as farm manager, and his son Jacob managed the estate’s office in Adderley Street, Cape Town.

1876
Two medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine in Philadelphia.

1878
A gold medal is awarded to Groot Constantia wine in Paris.

1881
Six awards are won by Groot Constantia wine in Melbourne.

1885
Henry returned from Europe and it was decided to sell Groot Constantia by auction. On the 1st of October 1885 the Cape Government became the new owner, having bought the farm for a mere £5,275. When compared to the amount of £18,750 paid in 1824, the sad state of the vines on the farm is evident.

1899
The Cape Government used the farm as an experimental wine farm. A setback occurred when Phylloxera invaded the farm once again in 1899. The American wild vine stock was used to combat the plague.

1925
Just before Christmas 1925 a fire gutted the historic farmstead. This probably saved Groot Constantia because the government was forced to take a fresh look at the estate.

Just before Christmas 1925 a fire gutted the historic farmstead. This probably saved Groot Constantia because the government was forced to take a fresh look at the estate.

1926
The house was restored under the chairmanship of the architect Franklin Kendall. Alfred de Pass, from 1927 until his death in 1952, donated and bought objects for the Manor house and refurbished it.

1927
The homestead is opened as a museum, and Alfred Aaron de Pass starts donating and buying items for the homestead until his death in 1952.

1936
The homestead, with areas surrounding it and all objects thereon, is proclaimed a National Monument by the Minister of the Interior according to Section 8 of the Natural and Historical Monuments, Relics and Antiques Act, 1934, (Act No. 4 of 1934).

1963
In 1963 control of the farm was handed over to the Agricultural Technical Service.

1969
In 1969 the South African Cultural History Museum, presently part of Iziko Museums of Cape Town, became responsible for the running of the farmstead and historic “Cloete” wine cellar.

1971
During 1971 a wine museum was established in a part of the wine cellar by the South African Cultural History Museum. In 1974 this was closed and demolished.

1975
In 1975 Hoop op Constantia and part of Nova Constantia were consolidated with Groot Constantia. An adjoining property, Coleyn, followed in the early 1980s.

1976
The Groot Constantia Control Board is established, which replaces the Department of Agricultural Technical Services as viticultural body on the farm.

1984
The Groot Constantias State Estate, including the Groot Constantia and Hoop op Constantia homesteads and all the outbuildings thereon, are declared a National Monument by the Minister of the Department of National Education according to Section 10 (1) of the War Graves and National Monuments Act, 1969 (Act 28 of 1969).

1993
Ownership of the entire estate was transferred from the government to an independent company named Groot Constantia Trust NPCRF. The main aim of the Trust is to preserve and maintain the cultural heritage of the estate for posterity

1993
The historic bath, homestead, Jonkershuis complex, and wine cellar are restored by architects Revel Fox & Partners. The project is
completed in 1994.

1994
Restoration of the pediment gable of the Cloete cellar.

1996
Restoration of the graveyard.

1997
Renovation to Hoop on Constantia.

Ownership of the entire estate was transferred from the government to an independent company named Groot Constantia Trust NPC RF. The main aim of the Company is to preserve and maintain the cultural heritage of the estate for posterity by keeping it in Trust for the Nation.

Restoration of the graveyard.

Renovation to Hoop on Constantia.

Meet the Owners

Meet the owners of the oldest wine farm in South Africa and learn to understand the significance of each era.

1639-1712

Simon van der Stel
Contemporary documents describe Simon van der Stel, the first owner of what is now Groot Constantia, as having been born in Mauritius. In fact, he was born at sea while his parents were on their way to Mauritius from Batavia in 1639. His father, who was in the employ of the Dutch East India Company (VOC, as contracted in Dutch), had been posted there, but was eventually transferred back to Batavia, were Simon remained until the age of 20, having by then lost both parents.


1716-1734

Oloff Bergh and Anna de KoninghOloff Bergh, who took possession of Constantia on 13 November 1716, was born in Göteborg, Sweden, in 1643 and joined the VOC in 1665. He spent a few years in
Ceylon as a soldier and was a sergeant when he arrived at the Cape in 1676.

1734-1778

Carl George Wieser and Jacobus van der Spuij
On 9 August 1734, Groot Constantia was acquired by Carl George Wieser. Wieser, a soldier in the service of the VOC who came from Heidelberg, Germany, arrived at the Cape in 1728. He was promoted to corporal in 1730 and two years later married Johanna Jacoba Colijn, sister of Johannes Colijn, then owner of Klein Constantia. In 1724, Johanna owned a farm at Camps Bay and evidently had some farming  experience. Their only child, a boy, was born in 1732. In the following year, Wieser resigned from the VOC to become a Free Burgher.

1778

Jan Serrurier
Jan (or Johan) Serrurier, the son of a minister, Louis (or Lodewyk) Serrurier, and Esther de Vis, came from Hanau in the Netherlands. In 1747, he married Catharina Kretzschmar, the widow of Jan van der Swyn, who from 1738 had owned and lived on the farm Alphen, not far from Groot Constantia. Two sons were born from this marriage. In 1755, after Catharina’s death, Serrurier married Geertruyda (baptised 1736), daughter of the wealthy farmer Jacob van Reenen (died 1764), owner of Witteboomen, also near Groot Constantia. They had seven children.


1778-1799

Hendrik Cloete (Senior)
Between 1778 and 1885, three generations of Cloete’s owned Groot Constantia and a total of five Cloete generations were responsible for its viticulture.

1799-1885

The Cloete Era continues
Hendrik Cloete junior had a close association with the estate starting 1778, the year that his father bought it and had given him the job of farm manager, for which his remuneration was a share of the produce.

1885 – 1993

Government

1993 till present

Groot Constantia Trust
A non-profit company (NPC) – which means that the farm does not belong to any private individual but is being conserved and protected as a Provincial Heritage site for the South African nation – The Nation’s Estate.