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Klein Constantia

Klein Constantia has a rich history dating back to 1685 when Simon van der Stel established his own vast farm of 891 morgen, and called it Constantia. He did not do this by chance, but sent men to dig up samples of soil from Table Bay to Muizenberg, which he analysed before making his choice, deciding that the sheltered valley with its fertile decomposed granite soils would suite him nicely. In 1823 the farm was divided between brothers Jacob Pieter and Johann Gerhard Cloete, the latter took ownership of the upper reaches on the eastern slopes and foothills of the Constantiaberg, where there were already over 33,000 vines under cultivation, and called it Klein Constantia – “Little” or “Small” Constantia. In 1913 Klein Constantia was acquired by Abraham Lochner de Villiers, a wealthy milliner from Paarl and his American actress wife Clara Hussey, and the couple lived a glamorous party lifestyle on the property which one guest likened to “something out of the Great Gatsby”! Winemaking continued under the de Villiers and the estate was known for producing good wine and excellent Port. They had no issue of their own so the estate was inherited by their nephew Jan Villiers, but he had no interest in winemaking, despite being sent to Berkley in California to study viticulture, and in 1955 sold the estate to Ian Austin. Austen sold it on to Duggie Jooste in 1980, who revived Klein Constantia to its former winemaking glory. In 2011 a pair of investment bankers affiliated with the Dutch-based BXR Group, Czech-born Zdenek Bakala and Charles Harman from the UK, bought Klein Constantia from the Jooste family and the following year Klein Constantia merged with Stellenbosch-based Anwilka. Today the 146 hectare Klein Constantia estate is farmed according to organic and biodynamic principles, planted at between 70 and 343 metres above sea level on those famous granite soils, formed up to 600 million years ago, where the vines are gently cooled by the breezes from the ocean, just 10 kilometres away. This is a cool climate area where Sauvignon Blanc thrives, along with Chardonnay, Riesling, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Shiraz and Muscat de Frontignan. It is from Muscat de Frontignan that Klein Constantia produce their legendary Vin de Constance sweet wine, which reached its height of fame under the Cloete family. It was supplied to Napoleon in exile on St Helena until his death; was mentioned by Jane Austen in Sense and Sensibility and by Charles Dickens in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and three of the Founding Fathers of the USA, George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were also fans. The wines from this iconic estate are symbols of elegance, minerality and balance – have yourself a glass of history!