Cape Town fires threaten SA oldest wine producing estate
The devastating fires that are ravaging Cape Town at the moment have also threatened the survival of South Africa’s oldest wine-producing estate.
Groot Constantia is a National Monument and a living museum which is celebrating its 330th year of uninterrupted wine production this year.
Thankfully, initial assessments show that only a portion of the higher vineyards, all Sauvignon Blanc varietals, have been damaged by the fire.
Jean Naudé, CEO of Groot Constantia says that at the moment there is a lot of smoke and they have been unable to fully assess potential damage. “We are unable to establish the state of the baboon fence and other sections of vineyard. The fynbos stretch on the farm to the north west of the wine cellar is currently on fire but thankfully the wind has changed direction and is blowing the flames away from the historical core.”
In what was thankfully an unnecessary precaution in the end, the contents of the beautiful, original Manor House, which is an IZIKO museum, were all evacuated by IZIKO. The Groot Constantia Manor House was built by Simon van der Stel more than 300 years ago and most of the artefacts are irreplaceable.
“The situation currently looks much better than it did last night and it doesn’t seem that there has been any serious fire damage for which we are extremely grateful. The situation could’ve been a lot worse,” says Naudé, who advises that once the smoke has cleared they will be able to assess the full extent of the damage but that they plan to be back to ‘business as usual’ as soon as possible.
“We are anticipating more smoke damage than actual fire damage – but at this stage we cannot ascertain exactly how bad it will be.”
The fire that threatened the historical monument of Groot Constantia is now being contained in the forest area above the cellar and the Wildfire Services are doing everything in their power to keep it there.
“We are so very grateful to the Volunteer Wildlife Services for saving Groot Constantia and we implore Capetonians to support them by making monetary donations via the Givengain foundation which will keep the firefighters going and keep the helicopters in the air,” concludes Naudé.
For more about Givengain visit http://www.givengain.com/cause/2486/