Domain: Klein Constantia
Klein Constantia is an estate that is intimately linked with the history of vineyards in South Africa. Simon van der Stel, Governor of the Cape of Good Hope and founder of the estate, was one of the first to have seen the Cape's strong potential for producing great wines in 1685. The name Constantia was selected for the new estate, probably inspired by Constantia van Goens, the grand-daughter of the General Governor of the Dutch East India Company, who granted Simon van der Stel land on which to set up his wine-producing estate. The estate was therefore established behind Table Mountain, around twenty kilometres from the Cape. Upon his death, the estate was purchased by Hendrik Cloete who lead it to incredible reputability: this soft wine made from over-ripe grapes was appreciated by a range of famous figures: Louis Philippe, Napoleon (in exile at the time in Saint Helena), Frederick the Great, Bismarck
Klein Constantia fell into the hands of a succession of owners throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, experiencing times of crisis (the vineyard was devastated by phylloxera, and had to be bought out by the state at the end of the 19th century) and times of plenty: in 1913, the very wealthy Abraham Lochner de Villiers and his American wife Clara Hussey bought and successfully ran the estate until their deaths in the 1960s. Since 1980, Klein Konstantia has been owned by the Jooste family, who ploughed significant investment back into the estate to bring the historic cru back to life. Klein Constantia produces a range of wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling varieties in particular. But Constance wine is the estate's best-seller, the revival of a cuvée produced in the 18th and 19th centuries and sold in its original 50 centilitre bottle.