The verdant Constantia valley, home to Klein Constantia Estate, is the oldest, most enduring vineyard region in the Cape, first producing wine in 1689.
As part of the original farm that in the 18th century produced 'Constantia', prized throughout Europe by the leaders and aristocracy of the time, Klein Constantia has helped to reclaim its former glory by initiating the revival of this famous sweet wine.
Family owned and run, Klein Constantia's philosophy is founded on quality rather than quantity, reflected in the wines regularly inviting accolades, both locally and internationally.
Jan van Riebeeck first brought vines to the Cape, and it was he and chief gardener Hendrik Boom, who produced the first wine in the Company Gardens, which still provide an urban haven in the centre of present day Cape Town.
On Sunday 2nd February 1659, van Riebeeck, then 40 years of age, wrote in his diary: 'Fine warm weather. Today, praise be to God, wine was made for the first time from Cape grapes, namely from the new must, fresh from the vat. The grapes were mostly Muscadel, and other white round grapes, very fragrant and tasty.'
Van Riebeeck then set about planting grapes on Greenpoint Common, and when this venture was not successful he was granted a farm where he planted thousands of vines, near the upper reaches of the Liesbeeck River.
The area surrounding this farm was called de Wynberg, the Wine Mountain. At this time, in the middle of the 17th century, Constantia lay outside the Cape Colony, and was known only as 'woeste veld', or wild bush - a place devoid of farms or homesteads. By the time he left the Cape for Batavia in 1662, one of van Riebeeck's significant contributions to the future of the colony was the introduction of vines, and the modest beginnings of a winemaking tradition.
Constantia owes it position as a world famous wine-producing area to two remarkable men - Governor Simon van der Stel, who chose the Valley for his own farm in 1685, and Hendrik Cloete, who bought the homestead on a section of the original farm in 1778. By revitalising and developing the estate, he bought international fame to Constantia wines.