13 July once again marks a momentous occasion for South African heritage, and in particular, wine, as it celebrates the 338th birthday of Groot Constantia, South Africa’s oldest wine-producing farm that has an uninterrupted record of producing legendary wine since 1685.
Groot Constantia was founded on 13 July 1685 by Simon van der Stel, the then Governor of the Cape, at a time when the famous wine production area in Bordeaux, the Medoc, was yet to be developed, and the Cabernet Sauvignon wine varietal did not yet exist. Today, the Estate is one of South Africa’s most iconic wine farms and is no stranger to accolades, awards and international acclaim.
Unique Vintage Vault experience opens to the public for the very first time #since1685
To mark this notable 338th birthday milestone, Groot Constantia is celebrating by opening the Vintage Vault on the Estate to make a limited amount of their famous and collectable wines available to taste and purchase. These wines are all selected for their value as collector’s items, great to invest in and to enjoy on special occasions.
In addition to this, from 13 July to the end of August, Groot Constantia is rolling out a unique Vintage Vault Experience on the Estate that will see guests treated to an exclusive tasting of these coveted wines in the alcoves of the historical Manor House – an experience never offered to the public before.
A fresh selection of wines from the Vintage Vault will be opened every day – making each tasting truly unique in the extraordinary arched spaces located underneath the Groot Constantia Manor House, which was originally built in 1778.
“All of the wines that we are releasing from the Vintage Vault demonstrate the values, story, heritage and most importantly, quality of the Groot Constantia wines,” says Jean Naudé, CEO of Groot Constantia, who explains that “the Vintage Vault is characterized by its alluring cool, dark and mystical atmosphere, where a passageway leads romantically down several steps to reach the soft ambience where the Vintage Vault is situated in an environment ideal for storing wine.”
“Most people are not aware that we have this Vintage Vault, which is like a trip back in time, offering a glimpse into the wines produced at Groot Constantia over the ages. Over the decades, Groot Constantia has stored a portion of every vintage produced for our reference and records. It is a true Aladdin’s cave of the finest vinicultural wonders of the world and prized treasures. Groot Constantia is hailed the world over as a true living legend, overcoming many challenges to maintain a constant multi-award-winning wine production since its founding year in 1685. In the same vein, many of—if not all—of its wines are now also true legends of the highest quality, be they past vintages or present ones, which have created a long-lasting legacy for the Estate.”
An example of these exceptionally rare wines that are stored in the Vintage Vault includes a bottle of Groot Constantia’s iconic Grand Constance wine produced in 1821 (the oldest bottle stored here) produced and bottled in the famous Cloete Cellar; JP Cloete’s Pontac wine, which achieved acclaim at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1855; as well as a few bottles of wine that were originally produced for the Duke of Northumberland.
Vintage Vault pays homage to a plethora of awards bestowed on Groot Constantia #since1685
One of the oldest surviving trademarks in the world, Groot Constantia’s wines have been favoured and sought out over the centuries by dignitaries such as Louis Philippe (King of the French); Frederick the Great of Prussia; the French military commander and political leader, Napoleon; British noble, The Duke of Northumberland; German statesman and diplomat, Otto von Bismarck; and British monarch, King George V of England. To add to its notability, Charles Dickens celebrated Groot Constantia’s sweet wines in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Jane Austen’s character recommended it as a cure for a broken heart to heroine Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility and Charles Baudelaire compared Constantia wine to his lover’s lips in his most famous volume of poems, Les Fleurs du Mal.
This historical Estate’s wines began bringing home awards as far back as 1855 when they won a silver medal at the Paris Exhibition. Multiple international awards have continued to follow thick and fast through the ages—with no sign of slowing down!
More recent notable international accolades include the Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2013 being awarded best in the world at Chardonnay de Mond, and the Sauvignon Blanc 2019 winning the International Sauvignon Blanc trophy at the International Wine Challenge. Additionally, Groot Constantia has been awarded the Top Wine Producer in South Africa by the South-African Wine Index (SAWI), and nine Groot Constantia wines were also listed as part of South Africa's Top 100 Wines by the SA National Wine Challenge in 2019.
“The sharing of these wines is part of our mission at Groot Constantia to preserve and promote the legacy of South Africa’s wine industry, ” says Naudé. “Groot Constantia is a Provincial Heritage Site and a living museum, as well as the birthplace of South Africa’s wine industry and is under the care of the Groot Constantia Trust. Our long history and ongoing success can be attributed to a variety of factors, not least of which is our dedication and commitment to sustainability across all fronts. Groot Constantia is a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Conservation Champion and is focused on ensuring the legacy that we have built endures for another 338 years—and more!” concludes Naudé.
The limited-release Vintage Vault wines will be available from 13 July until the end of August 2023 at the Groot Constantia Estate and online. The Vintage Vault Experience can be booked via Dineplan a cost of R500 per person (note that bookings are essential) and will open on the Estate’s historic birthday: 13 July. To add to your Groot Constantia birthday celebration, book a meal to follow your Vintage Vault Experience at one of the top restaurants on the Estate, either Jonkershuis or Simon’s Restaurant.
For more information, visit www.grootconstantia.co.za or connect with Groot Constantia via social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @GrootConstantia.
Use the hashtag #since1685 to share your Groot Constantia birthday celebration experiences.