Groot Constantia has long been one of my favourite spots in Cape Town, and on Friday 13 July the farm celebrated 333 years of uninterrupted wine production – quite phenomenal when you think about it! The day was marked with a special event attended by Groot Constantia trustees, staff and members of the media.
I arrived late morning on that drizzly Friday and was ushered to the tasting area where guests sipped on champagne, enjoyed delicious snacks and chatted. Guests were welcomed by Groot Constantia’s CEO, Jean Naudé before moving outside for a tree planting ceremony. This was rather special as six English oaks were planted along the avenue outside Jonkershuis restaurant – three trees in honour of the three centuries gone past, and another three for future generations and hopefully another three centuries! Fortunately the rain held off for the most part and it was wonderful to see everyone from the trustees to the children of the farm getting involved in the tree planting ceremony.
After the ceremony there was a bit of time for some wine tasting before we were invited to take our seats for a gorgeous three course lunch at Simon’s Deli. Earlier in the day we had been told that there was a surprise in store, and after we were seated this was revealed by Chairman of the Groot Constantia Trust, Dr. Ernest Messina in the form of the homecoming of a bottle of 1855 Pontac, recently procured at an auction in France. The bottle was quite literally unpacked and revealed for the first time in front of guests with much applause.
We also enjoyed a talk by board member Hannetjie Du Preez who spoke about Groot Constantia’s history, particularly in relation to awards that the farm’s wines have won at various international exhibitions over the centuries. To think that that Pontac had won a silver medal at an exhibition in Paris in 1855 is quite mind boggling, and Hannetjie entertained us with plenty of fun facts in between. Like the fact that Queen Victoria visited the exhibition and that the Singer sewing machine and the saxophone were unveiled for the first time at the same event. Even back then, Groot Constantia was popular on an international scale!
I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch, particularly as we were seated next to the large fireplace while the rain came pouring down outside. We had a choice of starters, mains and desserts all paired with Groot Constantia wines. I chose the smoked snoek paté to start, followed by a divine slow-roasted lamb shoulder that was literally falling off the bone and finally the chocolate mousse served with a glass of Groot Constantia Grand Constance – just superb!
Before we left we were each given a beautifully presented protea plant which was a lovely surprise and parting gift. Dr. Ernest Messina emphasised during his speech that Groot Constantia belongs to the people of South Africa, and I encourage you to visit the farm not only to enjoy the incredible food and wine but to soak up some of the rich history of this special place.
All images are courtesy of Groot Constantia. Thank you Groot Constantia for inviting me to be part of your 333rd birthday celebration!