Sunday, November 17, 2013

A stopover at Groot Constantia in Cape Town, South Africa

Groot Constantia in Constantia
On the way to the airport this morning, we stopped by the famous Groot Constantia, which is a winery operating out of a lovely Cape Dutch estate in the suburban area of Constantia.

It was founded in 1635, and it boasts of award-winning wines.



They claim to be South Africa's oldest wine-producing estate, and it's about 20 minutes outside of Cape Town proper in an estate with a good restaurant, lots of greenery with nice walks, and a historical Cape Dutch house full of antiques.

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The gentleman who came to pick me up and bring me to the airport told me to be ready at just past 11 AM for my 12:50 PM flight on South African Express to Kimberley, in Northern Cape.

As usual, I was a few minutes late as I always like to spend as little time at airports as possible.

I'm in an airport practically every week -- or at least every two weeks - after all, so I try to always everything cut close whenever I get my way.

THIS COMPLETES THE WINERY PUZZLE
FOR CAPE TOWN

Vergelegen Winery in Somerset West, 
which we visited last year

But when we met up, he said to me: "I thought I'd take you first to Groot Constantia, since we're already in the area. You've already been to Vergelegen, Rust en Vrede, Steenberg and the Constantia Ulitsig estate. You need to see Groot Constantia."

Steenberg Winery in Constantia,
which we visited last year

I'd been to the first four wineries, you see, on my last trip to Cape Town exactly one year ago. And Groot Constantia was about a ten-minute drive from where I was staying, at the beautiful Alphen Hotel.


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Of course I quickly agreed. It also meant spending less time at the airport.

The Groot Constantia was really lovely, and they had a vast public tasting room that was contemporary in feel and full of all kinds of art.

SOMETHING TO BRING HOME



It encouraged me to get a bottle of Groot Constantia wine as a souvenir, even if I'm being terribly careful about my luggage weight as I just bought some pretty heavy African statues yesterday.

Yes, I practically blew my shopping budget and lugagge allocation in my first three hours in South Africa, and I still have a couple of things on my shopping list.


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I bought these statues because they reminded me of what I saw and liked at the Four Seasons Serengeti in Tanzania just last month.

I asked the lady at the wine tasting room: "If you only could buy one bottle, which would it be?"

A REALLY FAMOUS DESSERT WINE
FROM SOUTH AFRICA



Without hesitation, she pointed out their dessert wine, the Grand Constance 2011.

It's Groot Constantia's most famous wine, and -- in its various vintages -- it's been drunk by everyone through the ages from Napoleon Bonaparte and Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth.

"Can you buy this outside of South Africa?" I asked her. Why lug a bottle all the way home, after all, if you can buy it in the wine shop in your city, or somewhere in Asia?

ONLY IN SOUTH AFRICA AND GERMANY.
NONE AT ALL IN ASIA.

This package is going home with me in a few days...

She said: "You can only buy this in South Africa and in Germany."

That sealed the deal. Out came the credit card and into my luggage went one precious bottle that came in a really fancy-looking wooden box.

And one of these days, I'll just have to find an occasion to open it, in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

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