When Simon van der Stel left the Netherlands in 1679, he was already an avid winemaker. Arriving in South Africa as the newly-appointed Commander of the Cape, he immediately began looking for the ideal place to call home and plant vineyards…

Six years later, he’d chosen a picturesque valley beneath the Table Mountain range. With its gentle inclines, rich sandstone soil and cool Atlantic breezes, van der Stel must have thought he’d stumbled into a winemaker’s paradise…

Christened ‘Constantia’, after the daughter of the benefactor responsible for granting van der Stel the land, South Africa’s (and indeed the entire southern hemisphere’s) oldest existing vineyards were planted here in 1685.

Over the next three centuries, the Constantia Valley’s wines flowed far and wide – impressing the palates of emperors, kings, poets and presidents alike – including Frederick the Great, Germany’s Otto van Bismarck and Louis Philippe I of France.

When Napoleon was lying on his deathbed, he refused everything except, ‘a glass of Las Cases (Constantia) wine’. Ironically, this was also what almost certainly killed him… DNA tests have since indicated that he died of arsenic poison, probably delivered in the wine.

Moving further west, Thomas Jefferson most likely introduced Constantia wine into the United States in the 1790’s. Around the same time, King George IV famously quarreled with the English Prime Minister in Downing Street when he didn’t get his quota.

From Charles Dickens to Jane Austen, Balzac to Rudyard Kipling – Constantia’s sweet wine has inspired many a legendary story…

Mrs Jennings, from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, recommends its ‘healing powers for a disappointed heart’. Charles Dickens had it served with ‘a homemade biscuit’ in his final, unfinished novel, and the French poet Baudelaire – in his famous ode to decadence – compared it to his mistress’s ‘nectar mouth where love swoons’.

As part of van der Stel’s original estate, Constantia Uitsig is proud of its roots and equally inspired by the route ahead. Determined to uphold our valley’s long-held status as a world-class wine region, we’re focused on creating a handful of wines that will once again find their place into future history books, and continue to fill glasses and please royal palates the world over.

2016-03-10T07:22:57+00:00 January 28th, 2016|News|

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