In 1685 the commissioner of the VOC granted 763 hectares of land for Simon van der Stel the last commander and first governor for the Cape.
The name of Constantia could have derived from the name of the official’s daughter who initially granted the rights and also means Constancy.
Simon Van der Stel built a simple homestead in what is known as Groot Constantia today. He retired there in 1699, and lived there until his death in 1712. By this time the estate had grown significantly.
After his death and his sons no longer legible to receive the land, it was divided into three main regions in 1714 namely: Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, and Bergvliet. Groot Constantia was approximately 193 hectare in size.
The homestead was transferred to Mr Olof Berg in 1716. After he passed away in 1724 his wife Annah (from freed slave ancestory) became the first woman owner of Groot Constantia. It then passed through the hands of several owners namely: Carl Wiser a superb winemaker, Jacob van der spuy, Johannes Serruir and eventually Hendrick Cloete in 1778, the farm remained in the Cloete family until 1885.
It was under the Cloete family that the wines of Constantia were popularized. Hendrick Cloete employed the famous French architect LM Thibault and sculptor Anton Anreith to design and build a new wine cellar in 1791 which is still on display today. He improved the original homestead, which unfortunately burnt down in 1925. After Hendrick Cloete passed away the farmstead passed down in his family until 1885 when it became an experimental farm used by the Cape Government. In 1936 after restoration of the homestead it was proclaimed an historical monument, and the historical buildings are now managed by Iziko Museums.
The region of Constantia has become world famous for its wines especially its more sweet or desert wines. Grand Constance being one of the most popular. Its wines have been drunk by Napoleon Boneparte and King Louis Phillipe of France, and mentioned in the writings of Jane Austin.
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