“I want to express a sense of place in all our wines, a taste of Groot Constantia’s character.”
“Groot Constantia’s character for me is about old world charm, restrained elegance that fits its three hundred year history.”
“Wine snobbery is not what it is about—that is not why we make wine.”
There are many versions of the origin of the name Constantia but the most credible is that the seriously acquisitive Simon Van Der Stel, the original owner of the whole of the Constantia Valley, named it after the daughter of the VOC official who expedited the transfer of the land—plus ɕa change. Today Groot Constantia, after a sometimes turbulent history, has settled into a gracious and venerable old age. A visit here takes one back to a time more gentle, when things were slower, and we had never heard of Twitter. This is definitely the 300 year old Granddaddy of all the wine farms in the Cape and a visit will not disappoint. Wines from here used to be sought after by Emperors and aristocrats, writers like Jane Austen, and even Napoleon on faraway St Helena. After a period when the wines were not well considered, today the team there is producing award winning wines that are readily accessible to the thousands of visitors who flock there annually. Young winemaker Boela Gerber , a member of the prestigious Cape Winemakers Guild, keeps a tight rein on things, making wines that are worthy of their ancient heritage with plenty of fruit always apparent, supported by oak whenever necessary. The more than 66 Gold Medals won by these wines in the last decade both here and internationally means he must be doing something right.
Boela was born in Cape Town in 1972. He is easy going and affable, with a sense of humour that has obviously seen him through one or two tight spots. He originally enrolled at Stellenbosch to do a BSc and stumbled upon wine making “quite by accident” when he was “quickly persuaded “ by one of his class mates , the son of the legendary Wilhelm Linde from Nuy, to switch to Oenology, which he calls a “steep learning curve,” one that he took to like a duck to water. His biggest influence was Andre van Rensburg (Vergelegen) with whom he worked at Stellenzicht. He has had extensive overseas experience at Chateau Angelus at St Emilion, and” a few vintages in Bordeaux in the off season, as well as Tuscany, La Rioja and California” says he modestly. He is married to Michaela, a Physiotherapist. They are “very fortunate” to live on the estate and love entertaining at home. He enjoys the outdoors, mountain biking at Tokai and surf skiing at Hout Bay, and the occasional holiday at his folk’s cottage at Yzerfontein.
The quintessential SA wine, magnificent example made from red and white Muscat grapes from a special vineyard next to the Manor House, intense and fragrant, with crisp acidity balancing the sweetness perfectly. A fabulous gift for someone special.
GROOT CONSTANTIA PHONE 021 794 5128
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN SA COUNTRY LIFE–A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE