Constantia Wine Tasting and Hout Bay
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Thu 2 Jan 2020 23:57
Constantia Wine Tasting and Hout Bay
We hopped off one bus and hopped on another to arrive at the oldest vineyard in South Africa. Before we left the bus we had heard that it was built by slaves, is the most respected label in the world, the vines cover 170 hectares and three quarters is for red wine, the rest for white.
The plaque in the garden told us that Groot Constantia has been producing wine for 361 years.
The gang decided it was brunch time so we settled in Jonkershuis Eatery. Patricia smiled behind our first ‘up and personal’ with the National Flower – the protea. Then followed quite the saga as eight people had to choose from an extensive menu. Thankfully, we had an incredibly patient waitress.....
The others had pancakes, eggs Benedict and omelette with mushrooms.
Bear had burger with all the trimmings and I chose what I thought was a cheese and tomato toasty with a bit of bacon on the side....
Getting this lot to pose.....Ostrika, Nauti Nauti, Canace and Beez Neez.
Then looked over the pristine vines and went in search of our tasting.
We headed toward the beautiful building......
.... and took in some agapanthus on the way.
The sundial with neatly kept gardens and the pond area.
We bought the Wine and Chocolate Tasting and glass in hand went to read the information boards. The History of Wine reads: Fable or fact... An ancient Persian fable credits a lady of the court with the discovery of wine. This Princess having lost favour with the King, attempted to poison herself by eating some table grapes that had spoiled in a jar. She became intoxicated and giddy and fell asleep. When she awoke the stresses that made her life intolerable had dispersed. Returning to the source of her relief, her subsequent conduct changed so remarkably that regained the King’s favour.
Where did it all start ? Fossil vines, 60-million-years-old, are the earliest evidence of grapes. The earliest written account of viniculture is in the Old Testament of the Bible which tells us that Noah planted a vineyard and made wine. Genesis chapter 9 verse 20: “And Noah began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard.” It is established that grape cultivation and wine drinking started as early as 8000 BC around Persia, wine knowledge spread to Egypt, Greece and then Rome. The culture of the vine spread with further colonisation and worldly explorations. Vines were taken along the international trade routes, which brings us to the Cape of Good Hope and the humble beginnings of the SA wine industry.
History of wine in South Africa: On the 2nd of February 1659 Jan van Riebeeck, the first commander of the Cape of Good Hope, wrote in his diary: “Today, praise be to God, wine was made for the first time from Cape grapes.”
The industry faced many trials and setbacks over the years, from the economic depression of the 1860s, to the destructive phylloxera virus that wiped out the vineyards in the 1880s. Over production in the 1900s resulted in the formation of the Kooperative Wijnbouwers Vereiging van Zuid-Afrika Bpkt (KWV) in 1918. KWV grew to dominate the industry until the end of the apartheid era. In 1994, apartheid ended in South Africa and the overseas markets opened up the wine industry.
Groot Constantia: the oldest wine farm in South Africa. Simon van der Stel. then Governor of the Cape, established Constantia in 1685. He selected the valley facing False Bay, after soil samples taken all along the southern slopes of the Cape Peninsula proved it best suited for vineyards.
It was Hendrick Cloete, who bought the land around the homestead in 1778, who really made the name of Constantia famous, with an unfortified dessert wine. He built the Cloete wine cellar and planted thousands of vines, including varieties like Frontignac, Pontac, red and white Muskadel. The wine became a favourite drink of European kings and emperors, from Frederick the Great to Napoleon. During the 1880’s the vineyards were decimated by phylloxera, and the Cloete family were declared bankrupt. Groot Constantia was sold to the government in 1885 and was used as an experimental farm until the late 1970’s.
In 1993 the Groot Constantia Trust, which owns and represents the farm in its entirety, was established.
Export from 1994 to 2006. Production by country and a vat branding iron from the 19th century.
We all sat at a table beside a farm cart with a meeting room beyond. The farm cart is from the late 19th century. This type of cart forms part of a group of open carts made in many variants and called bokkies, an Afrikaans word derived from the word buggy. Farm carts like this one, which is similar to The Caledonian which was manufactured by Retief, De Ville & Co. from Paarl, were built for farm use and rough travelling.
The tasting room and Grand Constance. Indeed when we toured Longwood House on St Helena we would see that Napoleon had this wine especially imported for his tipple of choice. I stayed with whites and thought some of the chocolate a little odd, Bear enjoyed both red and white, and we came away with our glasses wrapped up. Some of the prices (when we looked them up) were cheaper in the supermarkets......on we went.
Walking toward the bus stop we took in more of the views over vineyards........
......and watched some ducks about their scruffing.
A short ride on the Hop On Hop Off saw us at Beau Constantia.
Our first protea bush.
Quite a trek on some steep paths but beautiful scenery.
Soon the gang was settled. I didn’t want to do a tasting so I settled with a perfectly pleasing rose.
Bear caused great mirth as he leaned over the gate with ‘his loot’.
Back on the bus, we headed to Hout Bay, a sandy, seaside town famous for its fish and chips.
Too early to eat, we took a seaside bimble to take in the scenery.
We met a couple of ladies who wanted to pose with a crazy gang of yachties.
At five thirty the restaurant The Wharfside Grill, allowed us to sit in reception to await opening at six. Time for us to take in the curios and Nelson without an eye patch........This figurehead of a look-alike Nelson (without eye-patch) hails from Greenwich, England. Although acquired in 1992, it was carved several decades previously, and, according to the seller, was designed for the prow of a sailing schooner, which, due to the advent of fuel-propelled ships, was never built. Thus its well-preserved condition, having never been exposed to the ravages of a seafaring life.
The fun menu.
Bear and I went for prawn cocktail followed by local fish and chips – delicious.
Sitting out on the balcony overlooking the mountains we watched as the sun changed the colours and then set.
Too late now to get a HOHO bus, it was very amusing to watch two men (or the three degrees – Kevin and Bear) organise an Uber Taxi, hysterical when it turned out that they had both ordered the same one...... Irma was bemused. Soon enough we had tumbled in to two taxis and wended our way home.
ALL IN ALL QUITE A DAY WITH SOME GIGGLES
A GOOD BIT OF FUN