Tour Locations | Cellar Audio Guide: From Berry to Barrel to Bottle
LOCATION 12 | Cellar Audio Guide: From Berry to Barrel to Bottle
12. Put A Cork In It
NARRATOR: The signboard in front of you has strips of cork bark on it. Punched out of one of them are…well…corks.
That’s what the corks that go into wine bottles actually are – bits of bark from cork trees. Like oak grown here, local cork can’t be used for winemaking, and Groot Constantia imports its corks from Portugal.
They’re another import from another ancient trade, but the wine industry as a whole is moving away from them, towards screw caps. Australia is one example: 85% of its wine bottles are now sealed with a screw cap.
Screw caps don’t match up with way things are done at Groot Constantia. The last bottle of its latest vintage was sealed with a cork, just like the very first, 330 years ago.
Here’s Jean again.
Jean: Boela our winemaker…he’s a traditionalist…He believes in minimal interference. And in a way, that lines up very well with our whole traditional way of looking at things, and keeping the old traditions alive.
NARRATOR: Cork allows wine to age in the bottle, and it develops more character over the years than it would with a screw cap. But the choice is about more than that at Groot Constantia.
All the wine made in this cellar is bottled in this cellar, in a room below us. This final step is a part of what gives every bottle the designation “estate wine”.
And when that cork goes in right at the end of the process, a careful expression of 330 years of heritage go in with it. It’s sealed up so that it can travel out to many more countries than the estate’s most famous owner, Hendrik Cloete, could have possibly imagined. But old Cloete would probably recognise the story Groot Constantia wine tells when you open it up, wherever that might be.
[3 sec pause]
This is the end of the tour. I’ll let the wine do the rest of the talking now, down at the tasting room. Getting there is easy. Head all the way down the steps to your right and then turn left. It’s the room behind a glass wall, with tables made from barrels. There’s a shop at the bottom of the stairs too, if you’d like to buy some wine to take home with you.
For something to eat, you have two options. For cuisine that reflects the estate’s heritage, you can go to Jonkershuis, a restaurant with beautiful views of the Constantia Valley. Your second option is Simon’s, which uses fresh, locally grown ingredients to prepare classic dishes. Simon’s also sells picnic baskets..
I’ll leave you now, but here’s Jean with a final farewell.
JEAN: Thank you for joining us on this walk through the cellar. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and that you’ve discovered how much art, science and hard work goes into the process.
If you haven’t already, please download the VoiceMap vineyard tour to learn more about the grapes that help make our wine so special. It begins just outside the cellar.
Thanks again, and please don’t forget to add yourself to our impressive list of clients. Goodbye!