In Their Words
Groot Constantia History & Location
Tucked away in the fertile Constantia Valley on the eastern side of Table Mountain, Groot Constantia is the oldest wine estate in South Africa, an important component of World Wine Heritage and a world-class international tourism destination, just 25 minutes from Cape Town.
The estate’s rich history began when Simon van der Stel, the first Governor of the Cape, established winemaking at Groot Constantia in 1685, forming the origins of the commercial South African wine industry. Wine produced here was so renowned it appeared in novels by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens and was the wine of choice for nobility and royalty throughout the years.
Over 336 years on, the estate remains a fully operational farm and one of South Africa’s most visited tourist attractions. As a heritage site and living museum, visitors can expect a wide range of sensory encounters and special experiences, preserving the legacy, culture and heritage of the South African wine industry.
Groot Constantia are also proud to be a WWF Conservation Champion – acknowledged as an environmental leader in the wine industry for our commitment to conservation, responsible production and innovation.
Groot Constantia Operating Hours
Wine Tasting: available daily 9am-6pm (locations vary, see Wine Tasting section. Last tasting 5pm).
Visitors Route Experience Ticket: available daily, please call 021 794 5128 for timings.
Jonkershuis Restaurant: summer hours – open daily 8am-9pm, except Sun when the restaurant closes at 5pm.
Simons Restaurant: open Mon & Tue 8am-6pm, Wed to Sat 8am – 10pm, Sun & Pub Hols 8am-8pm.
Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day. All times, prices and facilities listed are subject to change. We recommend checking latest details directly with the farm and pre-booking experiences wherever possible, to avoid disappointment.
Groot Constantia Wine Tasting
The 155 hectare estate, of which 95 hectares are under vine, boasts 70% red and 30% white grape varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Pinotage, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Muscat de Frontignan (Grand Constance sweet wine).
Tastings can be taken in our traditional Production Cellar, Cloete Cellar and the Wine and Gift Shop. Opening hours for these vary slightly, so please contact the Estate for specifics. A free Wine Club is available to join to access discounts and exclusive offers.
Wine Tasting Prices
Our Wine Tastings include 5 wines of your choice for R105pp including a souvenir Spiegelau Crystal Glass, or you can add on 5 handcrafted chocolate pairings, for R160pp. Groot Constantia also offer their wine tasting packages as part of the Visitors Route Experience Ticket, priced at R125pp and R175pp respectively. Please see Tours & Activities below for more details.
Groot Constantia Restaurants
The estate features two full service restaurants: Jonkershuis and Simon’s.
Jonkershuis enjoys a charming old world feel and is nestled in the traditional heart of Groot Constantia, next to the historic homestead, surrounded by ancient oak trees. This family-friendly eatery boasts a diverse range of indoor and outdoor spaces.
Simon’s is a bistro-style affair with an al fresco terrace boasting panoramic views of the Groot Constantia vineyards or an interior with a giant fire for chilly days. Takeaway picnics are also prepared and collected here.
Menus & Pricing
Jonkershuis reflects the rich Cape Malay heritage of our home, conscious of the origin, sustainability and the ethical content of all the food we prepare. Our extensive menu includes staples such as French Toast and Eggs Benedict for breakfast, plus salads, fresh fish, grilled meats, gourmet burgers and Cape Malay curries for later. Prices from R140 for mains. A kids’ menu is also available.
At Simon’s, fresh, seasonal and local ingredients are used to make the most out of every meal. Breakfast includes classics such as feta & avo croissants and granola, whilst larger meals feature options such as slow roasted lamb, braised pork belly, fish & chips and mouth-watering desserts. Prices from around R140 for a main meal.
Picnics for 2 are available from Simon’s to enjoy in the grounds, and include a breakfast option, meat option, veg option, Halaal option and kids option. Prices from R475 for 2 and these must be booked in advance.
Groot Constantia Tours & Activities
Visitors are free to wander through the estate, however Groot Constantia’s history is best discovered on our self-guided Visitors Route Experience: a circular tour which takes in the heritage-rich core of the estate and its buildings, at a cost of R115pp.
This fee includes access to the original Cape Dutch Manor House, the Cloete Cellar (the birthplace of Grand Constance), a wine tasting experience including souvenir glass, tour of the cellar, plus access to the wine museum, cultural history museum and three audio walking tours of the estate. Should you wish to visit any one of these buildings separately, this is possible for a small entrance fee at each including guided cellar tours, which operate on the hour at a cost of R70pp.
Due to COVID restrictions, please note some experiences and buildings may be closed at short notice. Please call 021 794 5128 to book and ask about the latest opening hours and inclusions.
To access the three audio walking tours of the estate, download the free ‘Voicemap’ app which will help you discover the history and production of Groot Constantia, taking in the estate’s vineyards, historical manor house and modern-day production cellar.
When Lucy Visited
As South Africa’s oldest wine estate – and one which has been consistently producing wine since the 17th Century - it should come as no surprise to learn that it’s also one of the country’s busiest! But don’t let that put you off. With a little careful planning you can make the most out of this hugely important heritage site, which is known as the birthplace of South Africa’s wine industry.
So what makes Groot Constantia stand out?
Although many locals come to Groot Constantia for a coffee, meal or a catch up – if you’re a first timer to the estate it really is worth delving into its historical side first, so you can fully appreciate its legacy, the triumphs and challenges which the Groot Constantia Trust (who now manage the estate) face.
Set within 160 hectares (of which 90 are under vine), Groot Constantia is located in the affluent suburb of Constantia, around 25 minutes drive from the centre of Cape Town. You can easily drive here, join a tour with a guide or book the City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off bus – this is one of its most popular stops.
This particular site was originally chosen by Governor van de Stel of the Dutch East India Company back in 1685 for its favourable soils and position against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, overlooking False Bay. Back then the estate was simply known as ‘Constantia’ and the thousands of vines which were subsequently planted successfully produced ‘Constantia Wine’ (later known as Grand Constance) – which became hugely popular in Europe and highly sought after by royals and nobles.
Van der Stel went on to become Governor of the Cape and following his death in the early 1700s, the Constantia farm was split into three: Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia and Buitenverwachting (all of which still produce wine today).
Many of the old buildings from that time still stand, including the Cloete Cellar and Manor House, which offer a wonderful slice of history. As Groot Constantia is now a heritage site, they’ve taken the time to carefully think about how best to preserve and showcase these – so you have a few options. You can explore these yourself on the day subject to a small entrance fee, you can download one of their 3 free self guided audio tours of the Cellar, Vineyards or Manor House or you can book their ‘Visitors Route Experience Ticket’ which includes access to the Manor House and Cellar, a free guided cellar tour plus a wine tasting.
I particularly loved wandering around the vineyards with the audio tour as you get a sense of the estate’s scale and feel completely surrounded by nature and history. Just watch for baboons! Visit www.grootconstantia.co.za/experience/ for more entrance details.
So What About The Farm Itself?
As well as the sprawling vineyards and old buildings, the estate boasts a couple of popular restaurants, multiple tasting areas and lawns with space for picnics (bought from the farm). There are also lots of walking trails and plenty of people come just for a walk with their dog.
I’ve visited Groot Constantia several times now and have to say I prefer visiting during the week, or as early/late as possible over the weekends. For even though the estate is spread out, its popularity draws crowds in the central areas, which have to be carefully controlled. This means wine tasting is via a ticket and you may have to queue for a tasting during peak times. That said, at weekends there is often live music at Simons Restaurant and a great buzz, so you win some you lose some!
Visiting mid-week or earlier at the weekend means you almost feel like you have the place to yourself. The vineyards offer year round evolving views and the heritage buildings are accessible straight away, meaning you can explore with no stress and finish off with a tasting or lunch – often with more attentive service too.
It’s worth noting that there are no food platters in the wine tasting areas, so if you’re hungry visit either Simons or Jonkershuis restaurants, where platters and wines are served by the glass or bottle, alongside other main meals (and interestingly, other wine farm’s wines too). I enjoyed a cheese platter with warm bread at Jonkershuis for R170 which was tasty, and there is a lovely view down to False Bay on a clear day. Simons is just round the corner and is even bigger, with indoor and outdoor seating, mostly under the swaying trees.
A point to note: you won’t find any kids’ jungle gyms or specific kiddies activities here. That said, I have seen plenty of children but mostly in the restaurants, as both open on to flat lawns making it easy for parents to watch safely (Jonkershuis has a dedicated kids menu). However for the most part I’ve found the estate best suited to groups of friends, couples or older families – especially in the tasting areas.
What About The Wine Tasting?
You can wine taste in 3 different venues at Groot Constantia: by the entrance of the estate at the spacious Bottom Cellar; in the main Cellar with its outdoor patio area; or inside the small but bright and welcoming Cloete Cellar. I visited on a Saturday and couldn’t get into the last two which are located in the centre of the estate (queues due to COVID restrictions), so I visited the Bottom Cellar. In hindsight I’m glad, as here – slightly away from the hustle and bustle – they serve tastings at your table by the glass (the main centre seemed to have a table where you approached and asked for your next tasting).
If it’s a sunny day, many people opt for the main Wine Tasting Cellar as this is the only space with outside seating. I visited the Bottom Cellar which boasts limited exterior views of the vines however is warm and atmospheric inside, with a stylish olive green décor and beautiful tiled floors. They have also just opened a lovely craft shop in here too, with quality gifts.
At the time of writing, a ticket for 5 tastings costs R100 – good value considering the quality on offer, the fact that you can pick 5 of your own wines off a list of over 15 and also that you get to keep the branded glass. I tried the 2020 Sauv Blanc, their dry Rose, oaked Chardonnay, Pinotage and flagship Gouverneur Reserve 2018 red blend.
All wines are estate wines, meaning they are grown, harvested, fermented, aged and bottled on the property. Although red wines make up 70% of their production, their whites and rose were not to be scoffed at and I was pleasantly surprised to find all 5 of the wines I tried were incredibly well balanced, approachable (drinkable) yet full of flavour and depth, which lingered beautifully on the palate: not overly sweet, dry or tannic across the board. These guys know what they’re doing! The rose was priced at around R120 a bottle, the Sauv Blanc R175 and others upwards of R200.
In terms of service, my first wine host was pleasant but rushed and didn’t explain anything about the estate – however she then left for the day and my second host was excellent (Victor). This for me is the difference between a middle of day busy tasting and a late afternoon tasting, where the visitor numbers reduce and service can be a little more personal. Victor was patient and thorough and we had a great chat as he brought each wine out – which made such a difference to my experience.
A heritage wine farm destination with an abundance of history, character and great wines, Groot Constantia warrants a half day to fully understand and explore all its nooks and crannies. Aside from not having any dedicated kids’ facilities, it is a spacious estate with many other attractions to keep all ages entertained – just pick your day and time wisely for the best possible experience.
To bring the history of the estate to life, definitely invest the time to explore. Either download their free audio guides or book the Visitors Route Experience Ticket, for around R120pp. This includes a wine tasting plus access to their heritage buildings and a guided tour of the cellar. Visit www..grootconstantia.co.za/experience/ for more information. If it’s a buzzy restaurant vibe you’re after, come at the weekend when the estate comes alive, often with live music.