In November of 1684, Simon Van der Stel ventured off to uncover the most favourable wine growing area in the Western Cape of South Africa. Men were put to work, digging up baskets of soil from Table Bay to Muizenberg, each sample sent to the Castle for testing. Satisfied that the decomposed granite soil from the sheltered valley facing False Bay was the most favourable, he claimed it and called it Constantia.
Van der Stel's "Constantia" estate measured 891 morgen - almost the entire valley. He built a fine house surrounded by gardens and orchards, and by 1709, at least 7 000 vines had been established, many of which were imported from Germany and elsewhere. These were mainly "steen-druif", the blue Muscadel of Catalonia Muscadel, and the kristaldruif.
In 1711, Van der Stel died at Constantia, having embarked on a winemaking tradition that would soon achieve international fame. As none of van der Stel's family remained at the Cape, Constantia was divided into thirds and sold.
Following the death of its owner of the time in 1817, Constantia is further divided between two sons, Jacob Pieter who inherits Groot (Big) Constantia and 22-year-old Johan Gerhard who settles on the upper portion of the estate, already under vine, to be known as Klein (Little) Constantia. Already planted with over 33 000 vines, Johan Gerhard Cloete builds a cellar for his first new vintage at the helm of the newly named Klein Constantia. However, distater struck in 1865, when the Phylloxera disease arrived in the Cape, devastating the vineyard. The golden age of Constantia came to an end.
In 1912, Klein Constantia is purchased by American heiress, Clara Hussey, and her husband, Abraham Lochner de Villiers, a Paarl milliner. Following the death of Clara in 1954, the estate is left to her nephew, Jan de Villiers, who had been sent to the University of California at Berkley to study viticulture but despite his best efforts, he was unable to make a success of the venture and 13 years later, sold the farm to a good friend; Ian Austin, who then himself sold it on to Duggie Jooste 11 years later.
Duggie approached Professor Chris Orferr of Stellenbosch University to help return the vineyard to its former winemaking glory. Winemaker Ross Gower and architect Gawie Fagan begin work on the new cellar, which is finished just in time for the maiden vintage release in 1986. These new vintages are widely celebrated and praised, most especially Vin de Constance, a recreation of the original mythical Constantia sweet wine so beloved in the 18th and 19th Centuries by Napoleon Bonaparte and Jane Austen.
In 1989, Duggie's son, Lowell, slowly takes over the reins of the estate. Lowell successfully steers Klein Constantia through two decades of awards, accolades and milestones. Once again, the vineyard was sold to Zdenek Bakala and Charles Harman purchase Klein Constantia from the Jooste family in Vintage_2011.
Fresh and light toastiness on nose with butterscotch and nutmeg aromas. Medium bodied with an elegant structure, the wine has a flintiness with a balanced acidity that leads to a long finish.