While we do love an excuse to visit Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, there are days when a wine-farm experience beckons, without the N1 trek. Which is why the Constantia Valley is so appealing… We are particularly taken with three relative newcomers to the Constantia wine route.
Image Credit: Constantia Glen
Cars pack the parking area of this winery and restaurant – and for good reason. The view is stunning and the wines equally so. A jewel of the Constantia Valley, this magnificent wine estate was recently refurbished by interior designer Graham Viney who has transformed the stables into light airy spaces sporting a chic wine bar. Known for its cool-climate sauvignon blancs and Bordeaux-style reds, Constantia Glen offers wine tastings – with or without its delicious but limited charcuterie, cheese and salad menu.
The verandah, with its wicker chairs and tables, is the best spot to take in the sun-drenched vineyards and lawned terraces, as well as the spectacular mountain and valley views. The Glass Room also boasts glorious views and is probably a safer bet in winter.
Time Monday – Friday, 10am – 5pm
Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Contact 021 795 6100
Image Credit: Beau Constantia
Another Constantia gem, this relatively new winery has only been open for 18 months (the Getty sisters, Stephanie and Cecily, are the wives of the owners of Constantia Glen and Beau Constantia). Situated near the top of Constantia Nek, perched high above the valley, this estate enjoys breathtaking views of the winelands, False Bay and the Helderberg mountains beyond. The chic, glass tasting room and surrounding seating areas are luxurious, contemporary and comfortable, inviting visitors to linger longer.
The vines were planted in 2003 after the devastating fires of 2000 destroyed the surrounding fynbos and pine forests. Situated on some of the steepest slopes in the country, some 350 metres above sea level, there are now over 11 hectares of vineyards, with a variety of cultivars, including semillon, sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc, viognier, merlot, malbec, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and shiraz.
Wine tastings start at R20 for the second-tier Pas de Nom range, while the flagship Beau Constantia tasting costs R40. The Beau Constantia Wine Experience comes highly recommended: six flagship wines paired with six canapés from a pop-up menu for R145. (Canapés include artisanal camembert, preserved fig and fresh grape salsa, crustless quiche, spinach and goat’s cheese crumble; Parma ham with summer melon and mint pesto, liver parfait and red onion marmalade on a puff pastry, and almond macaroons.)
Time Monday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm.
Contact 021 794 8632
Image Credit: Eagles’ Nest
Cradled in a secluded valley, just 200 metres down the old Constantia Main Road, lies the 38-hectare Eagles’ Nest estate. This child-friendly winery has sprawling lawns so that younger members of the family can run free, while you get on with the more serious business of wine tasting. For just R40, you can sample two whites, one rosé and two reds. If you’d like a picnic-for-two to go with it, R350 will get you a deli meat selection; camembert round with fig preserve, basil, tomato and mozzarella salad, chicken-liver pâté, and more, with a bottle of sauvignon blanc or rosé (kids under 12 picnic for R100). Booking is essential, and remember to take a picnic blanket along.
Insider tip If you’re looking to purchase the estate’s delicious viognier, you’d better hurry, as British Airways bought the entire production last year for its first-class cabins. The flagship 2010 shiraz is also worth trying.
Time Monday – Sunday, 10am – 4.30pm
Contact 021 794 4095