• LOCATION 13 | Museum Audio Guide: Home to South African Wine

    Entrance to the Cloete Cellar: Nectar of the Gods

    Entrance to the Cloete Cellar: Nectar of the Gods on Cape Town audio tour Museum Audio Guide: Home to South African Wine

    Narrator: Look up here, above the entrance, and you’ll notice the Cloete Cellar’s striking pediment immediately.

    The scene on it was designed by the German sculptor Anton Anreith. His collaborations with the architect Louis Michel Thibault were the crowning achievements of Cape Dutch architecture, and the two men worked together for the first time here.

    Look at Anreith’s scene carefully. Can you see the rings in the background? Those are wine barrels. They have vines heavy with grapes growing around them, which chubby children are greedily pulling off and eating in bunches.

    At the centre of the pediment, you’ll notice a well-built teenage boy on the back of an eagle, pouring wine. That’s Ganymede, a character from Greek mythology.

    Ganymede was abducted from his home by the god Zeus, who flew him to Mount Olympus in the form of an eagle. He was made a servant of the gods – their cupbearer, responsible for pouring wine. Ganymede’s father was given some nice horses in return. The ancient Greeks saw no problem with this.

    You’ll also see the year 1791 at the centre of the pediment. This is when the cellar was completed, thirteen years after Hendrik Cloete Senior bought the estate. It’s fitting to return to him here, at the end of our tour.

    Jean Naude: My name is Jean Naude. I’m the CEO of Groot Constantia and I’ve been in that position over the last 15 years.

    Hendrik Cloete came a few years after Simon van der Stel, and he was also a perfectionist, and it was during his time that this farm produced wine of such a high quality that impressed European royalty, who were all clients of Groot Constantia and of course Napoleon Bonaparte was also supplied wine from Groot Constantia.

    I think it’s quite an achievement for a small farm in the southern tip of Africa to have caught the attention of these European royalties. They say that Constantia was one of the most sought after trademarks in Europe and that speaks about the ability of Hendrik Cloete.

    If you analyse Simon van der Stel, you’ll see that he was a perfectionist that placed a huge emphasis on continuity and one of the possible reasons that he named this farm Constantia is due to continuity.

    He was our founder and today, 300 years later, we are still trying to farm it according to the wishes of our founder. This was the first proper commercial operation of the wine industry, so it could be seen as the start of the South African wine industry. It’s a very important inheritance. We are the oldest, and being the oldest, it adds to your uniqueness and it’s something that we need to nurture and to take forward.

    Narrator: This is where our tour ends. There are two more VoiceMap audio guides available at Groot Constantia. One takes you through the modern production cellar, where you can follow the journey of the estate’s grapes from berry to barrel to bottle. The other explores its picturesque vineyards, and introduces a cast of rowdy grapes. On both tours, you’ll be accompanied by Groot Constantia’s winemaker, Boela Gerber, and its viticulturist, Floricius Beukes.

    If you're feeling peckish, there are two restaurants here on the estate. Simon's is to the right of the Cloete Cellar. It uses fresh, locally grown ingredients to prepare classic dishes and also sells picnic baskets. For cuisine that reflects the estate’s heritage, go to Jonkershuis, on the other side of the Manor House.

    Your Visitors Route ticket includes entrance to the Cloete Cellar, as well as a wine tasting that you can either do here, just past the entrance, or up at the production cellar.

    Okay, when you’re ready, step inside. If you turn right just past the doorway, you’ll find a bottle of Constantia wine that dates back to the era of Hendrik Cloete Senior himself. The Duke of Northumberland bought it more than 220 years ago, and kept it in the cool cellars of his castle. When it was opened by wine experts in 1979, it was still drinkable. In fact, one expert said it still had a beautiful bouquet. I’ll toast to that.

Museum Audio Guide: Home to South African Wine