Owners of Groot Constantia
Meet the owners of the oldest wine farm in South Africa and learn to understand the significance of each era.
Simon van der Stel (1639-1712)
Contemporary documents describe Simon van der Stel, the first owner of what is now Groot Constantia, as having been born in Mauritius. In fact, he was born at sea while his parents were on their way to Mauritius from Batavia in 1639. His father, who was in the employ of the Dutch East India Company (VOC, as contracted in Dutch), had been posted there, but was eventually transferred back to Batavia, were Simon remained until the age of 20, having by then lost both parents.
Oloff Bergh and Anna de Koningh (1716-1734)
Oloff Bergh, who took possession of Constantia on 13 November 1716, was born in Göteborg, Sweden, in 1643 and joined the VOC in 1665. He spent a few years in Ceylon as a soldier and was a sergeant when he arrived at the Cape in 1676.
Carl George Wieser and Jacobus van der Spuij (1734 -1778)
On 9 August 1734, Groot Constantia was acquired by Carl George Wieser. Wieser, a soldier in the service of the VOC who came from Heidelberg, Germany, arrived at the Cape in 1728. He was promoted to corporal in 1730 and two years later married Johanna Jacoba Colijn, sister of Johannes Colijn, then owner of Klein Constantia. In 1724, Johanna owned a farm at Camps Bay and evidently had some farming experience. Their only child, a boy, was born in 1732. In the following year, Wieser resigned from the VOC to become a Free Burgher.
Jan Serrurier (1778)
Jan (or Johan) Serrurier, the son of a minister, Louis (or Lodewyk) Serrurier, and Esther de Vis, came from Hanau in the Netherlands. In 1747, he married Catharina Kretzschmar, the widow of Jan van der Swyn, who from 1738 had owned and lived on the farm Alphen, not far from Groot Constantia. Two sons were born from this marriage. In 1755, after Catharina’s death, Serrurier married Geertruyda (baptised 1736), daughter of the wealthy farmer Jacob van Reenen (died 1764), owner of Witteboomen, also near Groot Constantia. They had seven children.
Hendrik Cloete (Senior) (1778-1799)
Between 1778 and 1885, three generations of Cloete's owned Groot Constantia and a total of five Cloete generations were responsible for its viticulture.
The Cloete Era continues (1799-1885)
Hendrik Cloete junior had a close association with the estate starting 1778, the year that his father bought it and had given him the job of farm manager, for which his remuneration was a share of the produce.
Government (1885 - 1993)
Groot Constantia Trust (1993 till present)