The region has a rich history dating as far back as 1685, but what’s most interesting is how the modern influences have helped to build this region up to a world class route that’s highly accessible. It’s Cape Town’s vineyard and a sweet escape from the hum of the city.
Whether you have a free morning or afternoon or can take a day or three to explore the region, here’s our checklist of things to see, taste and do like we recently did.
Beau Constantia Boutique Wine Farm
Beau Constantia is the perfect example of a new world city vineyard, making the most of the space and environment they have.
“The reason I love my job is that I get to translate a pocket of nature or terroir into something people can experience,”
She describes their winemaking philosophy as staying in touch with nature and preserving their terroir to the best of their ability. Their farm-to-glass approach is perfectly suited to the farm-to-table approach of the on-site restaurant, Chef’s Table. The steep vineyards means everything has to be done manually, with the utmost of care, and you can taste the difference. We’d definitely recommend trying the flavourful Stella wine while you are there.
Eagle’s Nest Wines
Due to the diversity of altitude, Eagle’s Nest have a few micro-climates to play with. This means that they can work in tiny batches that they can control for optimum consistency. Although it’s almost impossible to pick a favourite (like a parent having to pick a preferred child), their winemaker Duran Cornhill’s face lights up when he speaks about their Viognier. Described as a “bottle of liquid gold”, Duran says this wine offers a constant learning curve. One taste of the Viognier and we’re convinced you’ll share in Duran’s adoration.
The estate also has epic views, great food and a beautiful outside area that the whole family can enjoy on a laid-back Saturday. They are on the City Sightseeing Red Bus route, so you can see some great sights on your way.
Groot Constantia Estate
With over 400 000 visitors per year, Groot Constantia has perfected the art of giving visitors a world-class experience that they will want to go back for again and again. A visit is a must for locals and visitors in Cape Town and their Visitor Route Experience ensures you see and taste everything that they have on offer.
The experience includes a tour of the Manor House and cellar, a tasting of five wines and access to their three audio tours. The audio tours allow you to explore the grounds as you listen to the stories of the farm, from the rich history of the area to the personalities of the grapes. You can dine at their two restaurants Jonkershuis and Simon’s as you relax and try more of the wines. Try the Grand Constance and we’d also recommend you try their new blend, Lady of Abundance, which celebrates their abundant harvest.
Unlike the name suggests, there is nothing ‘klein’ (small) about Klein Constantia. Book a tasting with them and you’ll get to see why they have secured a spot in the hearts of many local and international wine lovers. You obviously couldn’t leave without trying the Vin de Constance, their world-renowned sweet wine that inspired kings, chancellors and famous authors alike.
Dine at their lovely bistro and browse the gift shop where you can buy artisanal products and souvenirs. We fell in love with their Klein Constantia Skin Mousse that you can sample in the reception area and will possibly have to return quarterly to restock. Booking is essential and we’d recommend a cellar tour where you can learn about their rich history and contemporary innovation.
As we drive up to Constantia Glen we’re greeted by a pastoral scene of sheep grazing in a small field, lambs frolicking in the grass and vineyards as a backdrop.
It gets better. The view from the Constantia Glen tasting room is exquisite, like a moving postcard. According to the owner, Gus Allen, when the land was purchased for a farm it was considered to be too high up and too cold for wine, but boy have they proven that notion wrong! They have a wine tasting menu to suit every palette and that pairs perfectly with the view.
Overnight at Glen Avon Boutique Hotel
This 5-star boutique hotel in the heart of the Constantia winelands gives you the opportunity to taste amazing local wines with a gourmet meal and overnight in complete luxury.
The old manor house has been beautifully maintained to give you a glimpse into the history of the area. Their restaurant offers divine 3-course meals and exceptional service to enjoy with local wines, without having to worry about driving anywhere. The perfect spot even for a stay-cation that will leave you feeling well rested and looked after!
Constantia Royale is a new kid on an old block, with their winemaker Roger Burton making their first vintage under this label in 2015. The original farm was split by the M3 freeway and now the family-owned winery produces an exquisite Sauvignon Blanc made from grapes grown on their 16 hectare farm that doubles as a top equestrian yard. “If you buy Sauvignon from the Constantia Valley you know you’re getting something good” says Roger and he’s right on the money there.
Their Sauvignon is so good it sells out annually and the 2018 vintage was awarded four stars by Platter. Unlike many of the other farms, they are not on the mountain slopes so they have deeper soil to work with, resulting in a more fruity flavour and less acidity in their wine. Special tastings can be organised, but their wine is also available at most retailers and restaurants in the area.
Constantia Uitsig Wine Estate
When you book a tasting at Constantia Uitsig you get the opportunity to taste wine with their winemaker and viticulturist, Danna de Jongh. She loves to get direct feedback from people sampling their wines. Originally from Namibia, Danna has been involved in harvests and winemaking in Germany, Portugal, America and Stellenbosch. “Each cultivar has its own expression, we want to let the vineyard express what it wants to,” says Danna.
Their farm is the lowest lying farm in the region with sandier soil. Each bottle carries an illustration of a different bird, signifying their commitment to the environment and biodiversity. Make an appointment to taste their wines and enjoy the exceptional scenery while you’re there. They also offer a Heritage Market with a wine shop, deli, Sushi Box, ice cream parlour, and craft brewery. For those who love to commute on two wheels, we suggest you visit the bike park.
Here, it’s all about family. Both the family of people who live on the property and the family of locals and visitors who make this place their home for a few hours during the week and especially on Saturdays. Everyone who works on the farm stays there too so when the business does well everyone benefits.
Lars Maack says that this has been one of the keys to their success. Growth is due to everyone’s involvement. “For us wine is a lifestyle,” says Lars. A lifestyle that’s inclusive, relaxed and social. Visit the farm on a Saturday and enjoy a day out with the great mix of locals, enjoy a wine tasting in the historic wine cellar (nearly 250 years old) costing only R60. They’re also distilling their own gins, grappa and schnapps and have craft beer, excellent coffee and delicious meals available on the estate too.
With a golf course, two restaurants and a hotel, Steenberg is a destination within itself. It has the bragging rights to say they were the Cape’s first registered farm, dating back to 1682. Here you can taste wine as you overlook infinity pools and massive lawns, with the mountains to marvel at too.
They produce a variety of wines including Méthode Cap Classique (MCC), Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Nebbiolo and their icon wine Magna Carta. We tried an MCC tasting and were blown away by the smooth and delicious bubbles of their range. The new signature restaurant Tryn recently opened and it should definitely be on your Cape Town bucket list.