Constantia is one of the defined wine regions of the Cape in South Africa, but Groot Constantia is the beautiful house dominating a particular wine estate above Cape Town. In 1679, Simon van der Stel, Commander of the Cape Colony, arrived and achieved astonishing results in founding towns, settlements and arranging for agriculture and business to make the Cape more than just a place of call for ships. He was granted the property on Table Mountain in 1685 and built the house in 1692; previously, he had planted the first vines at the Cape.
After Simon van der Stel’s death, the property was divided, but the wines gradually became famous and in the 18th and 19th centuries, were exported to all who could afford them. Thanks to the efforts of Hendrik Cloete, who bought Groot Constantia in 1778, both white and red wines were made and sent to many European courts – Napoleon insisted on drinking Constantia during his last days at St Helena. In 1885, the Government bought the estate and today it is run by its own board, under the Ministry of Agriculture.
Several wines are made now, red and white, and quality appears to be progressively improving. Although Groot Constantia wines cannot be usually found in shops, visitors to the estate are able to buy them and thousands from all over the world arrive annually, to see the superb house and impeccably cared-for property, which is undoubtedly one of the most famous wine estates in the world.