Now that things are—dare I say it?—loosening up a little, it is time to get out and taste wine. Buying some is also a good idea. I will be featuring some places to get out and about to do just that. The first is the granddaddy of them all, Constantia.


Close to the city of Cape Town, as a matter of fact one of its suburbs, lies the expensive real estate world of Constantia. Originally granted, (yes, the whole valley) to Simon van der Stel by a friend of his in the Dutch East India Company (why does that sound familiar!) and named after the friend’s daughter, today Constantia is a world of magnificent wine estates, glorious drives, and vineyards that slope from the mountains to the valley, with the distant sea at False Bay constantly in view. The wines from here were praised by Dickens and Jane Austen, and Napoleon had them shipped to him on distant Saint Helena. The tasting rooms here are not the only reason to be visiting but they are some of the best in all the Cape—each with its own charms


No visit here would be complete without a visit to Groot Constantia, the granddaddy of them all. Wander through the gorgeous grounds, admire the famous gables, try a meal at Jonkershuis, delightfully traditional, or Simon’s, where things are lighter, and taste the magnificent wines made by wine genius Boela Gerber. His Chardonnay 2013 won the Best in the World award at Chardonnay du Monde and this has always been among the best the estate produces, so don’t miss the current vintage. The classic Grand Constance is a legendary wine which people come from all over the world to buy in situ. The reds are all knockouts with my favourite being the Cab led blend they call Gouverneuers Reserve, magnificent. A close runner up is the white one with the same name– a fresh and appealing Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend with perfectly integrated oak. Various tasting options exist, starting at R90 with some including cellar tours. They all include a souvenir crystal glass from Spiegelau, a nice touch.


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This haven of tranquillity, adjacent to the world famous Steenberg golf course, is the home of two great restaurants like the recently refurbished Tryn’s, which used to be the iconic Catharina’s, and BistroSixteen82, where the wine tasting is situated. The restaurants are under the assured hand of top chef Kerry Kilpin, and do not feature schmeers and blobs of anything. Soothing ponds and striking art works help the whole thing go with a swing. Once again various wine tasting options exist ranging from R90 to R200, a very good idea indeed, as this allows you to choose how far you would like to go on your wine journey. The fee is waived on purchase of 6 bottles or more. If there are more than 10 guests booking is required, otherwise just pop in. Don’t miss the superb bubblies like the one called 1682, a 100% Chardonnay charmer, and the fabulous Merlot, a Double Gold Veritas winner. Take like-minded friends and unwind in style.

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Well known for their various styles of Sauvignon Blanc from their and their sister farm Anwilka as well as the iconic Vin de Constance, tastings here are priced from an easy going R100 for two Sauvignon Blancs and the Vin de Constance to a really serious R500 for some hidden treasures, so make sure you cut the clothe to fit.  A charming onsite restaurant (no children under 12) called The Bistro is right there to assuage those hunger pangs and tastings can—for a fee—take place in an atmospheric cellar called Duggie’s Dungeon. Don’t miss the superb bubblies like the Reserve, a barrel fermented 100% Chardonnay cracker of a wine.

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Long the home to one of the best fine dining experiences in the Cape, there is also a coffee shop with more easy going food , but if you want to spoil yourself and someone special take the time to do it Constantia style. Wine tasting takes place in the original cellar with thatched roof adding to the echt quality all around one. Easy chairs in leather entice you to relax and let the ambience of tasting wine take over. The fee is R60 for 5 wines and there are various eating ideas like biltong and chicken liver pâté to go with the wines. The reds in particular are worthy of note like the excellent Cab Sav but don’t overlook the Chardonnay, vibrant and elegant, lightly wooded.

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If The Chef’s Warehouse was the only reason to visit here it would still be a MUST. The spectacular situation, the racy atmosphere, the ebb and flow of a young vibrant audience, all go a long way to make this a great experience. The wines are pricey but fabulous and the range is small so it will be over just when you are longing for another swig of something fabulous, before you have a meal. The top wine is Pierre, a seductive Sauvignon/Semillon blend, closely followed by the Viognier called Cecily, delicious and restrained. . The Pas De Nom range, red blend, white blend and MCC are somewhat more user friendly and easy to throw back on a Sunday afternoon. The fee is R55 –waived depending on purchase.

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