As with Hout Bay, Groot Constantia was one of the places we saw when we drove down in that grey Beetle from Durbs.
One of the vineyards in the Southern Suburbs of the Cape Peninsula, along with Buitenverwachting that I recently wrote about, Groot Constantia is world famous.
There are many reasons for this, from it being Simon van der Stel’s life project to the historic buildings to its settings in the heart of Constantia.
Who was Constantia … !?
You should visit the website for that and also the nitty-gritty details of everything about it (I have the link at the end of this article …) but here are my first impressions as far as I can recall them of this magnificent place …
Firstly, in the heart of a city, an enormous historical vineyard!
Now where on Earth … ?
Okay, in Verona yes, perhaps older but not of this size.
Yes, generally in Italy and France and Germany and Austria and elsewhere in the Old World, the vineyards and farmlands are just part of the urban geography – but not in the scale of Groot Constantia as a city vineyard!
Here we are talking about a massive vineyard, and it is one of five in the same area!
Given its prestige as a tourist spot, expect no less as far as its wines go.
Superb … there is no mediocrity allowable at such a place.
You can taste them in an (also) enormous white building styled in the architectural style of those times.
Cape Dutch is the name of the old architecture, the buildings at Groot Constantia classically so … elsewhere in places like Franschhoek there is a French influence from the Huguenots which alters the gables (I think) – but I am no architect …
The road leading up to the historical buildings past the wine tasting edifice is about a kilometer long – well it seems like that to me and if metrically shorter its grandeur will more than make up for the rest of the missing metres!
And everywhere oaks – beautiful old golden oaks.
Golden oaks … whether or not they are golden, as an adjective for their beauty, they are metaphorically golden.
Also, squirrels – I had never seen squirrels before until I came to Cape Town. Can you imagine that, all those fairy tales that we read about, and finally as a young adult the first squirrel!
The roofs of the historical buildings are thatched, and occasionally on top of them a baboon – these guys can be quite mischievous, and smart like the one who knocked on the back door of the Black Marlin Restaurant on the way to Cape Point and demanded food! That is after all where the delivery trucks would roll up …
To scare the baboons away, unloaded air guns are fired off by baboon minders, the sharp crack of explosive air intended to scare them away.
As a visitor, a human one, you can indulge yourself in a variety of options from the historical tour, to the cellar tour, to sipping coffee and eating sweet desserts at the Jonkershuis Restaurant to guzzling beer and eating a hearty lunch at the Simon’s Restaurant.
One of my best indulgences is merely to stand beneath the oaks, with my elbows on those white walls overlooking the expanse of the lower vineyards.
I remember doing that first time around and wondering about all the localities between the vineyards and the sea, and the distant mountains.
Little did I know that I would end up living at the base of one of these mountains, trapped by the beauty of Cape Town for a life time.
Or perhaps I did …
I could go on about all the various aspects of Groot Constantia – and do not get me started on the runs in the vineyards and up to the lower reaches of indigenous forests …
But as I promised take a look at it’s website:
Copyright © 2015 G. Rigotti