SA to be represented at a gathering of the oldest wine estates in the world
In an exciting first for the South African wine industry, Groot Constantia, the oldest wine farm in the country, has been invited to attend a jubilee celebration in Austria being held by the Stift Klosterneuburg Wine Estate.
The celebration, which will take place on 30 August, marks the 900th birthday of Stift Klosterneuburg – the oldest wine estate in Austria. Other attendees will all be from the oldest and most renowned wine estates in the world, who will represent their wines at this one-of-a-kind event.
Fascinating history of Groot Constantia
Groot Constantia is South Africa’s oldest wine estate - in existence for 329 years this year. Wine has been produced on the estate without interruption since 1685 and in fact, Groot Constantia bottles, bottle shards and bottle seals dating from as far back as 1774 have been found in far corners of the world in some unusual circumstances:
One bottle was found at the bottom of the ocean in the archipelago outside Stockholm in the late 1940’s by a diver; three bottles were discovered in the cellar of a castle near Belgium that date to the period 1760 – 1840; a bottle piece featuring the Constantia bottle seal was discovered on a beach in the Delaware Bay and identified by historians to be part of the cargo of the Severn – a ship that was stranded there in 1774; another find was a very crude example of the Constantia wine seal – evidently far older than all the other examples - which was unearthed in an excavation in Meiningen in Germany.
During the Eighteenth century, wines produced in the cellars of the Groot Constantia estate received international acclaim for their superior quality and became known throughout the world as “Constantia Wyn (wine)”. Constantia Wyn began to fetch extremely high prices at well-attended auctions in many European cities and emperors and kings, from Frederick the Great of Prussia to King Louis Phillipe of France, all vied for their share.
Charles Dickens celebrated it in Edwin Drood, Jane Austen's character recommended it as a cure for a broken heart to heroine Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility and Charles Baudelaire compared Constantia wine to his lover‘s lips in his most famous volume of poems, Les Fleurs du Mal. Before his death in 1821, Napoleon had 30 bottles of wine, produced in Groot Constantia’s cellars, shipped over to St Helena every month to ease his exile.
Commander Simon van der Stel of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was originally granted the land on which Groot Constantia stands on 13 July 1685. It has changed hands many times over the centuries of course and now Groot Constantia is a National Monument and a living museum with the task of preserving the history and cultural legacy of the South African wine industry.
The current owners of the estate, the Groot Constantia Trust, a non-profit company, has ensured that Groot Constantia is beautifully maintained and operated to the highest standards – delivering a top-quality experience to visitors.
329 years later and the cellars of Groot Constantia are still producing notable, exclusive and desirable wines – which have won 67 gold medals since 2003.
Groot Constantia at the gathering of the world’s oldest wine farms
Dr. Ernest Messina, the Chairman of the Board of the Groot Constantia Trust, Jean Naudé, the CEO and Boela Gerber, award winning wine maker for Groot Constantia will all be attending the event at the Stift Klosterneuburg Wine Estate in Austria.
The events programme begins with a Master Class wine tasting of all the wines from the participating wine estates by a professional audience of sommeliers, journalists and gastronomes. This will be followed by a public wine tasting in the unique ambience of the Stift Klosterneuburg monastery. In the evening all of the guests will attend a gala dinner in the marble hall of the monastery, where a wine from the participating wine estates will be served with each course.
“It is an honour to be included on the guest list for this exciting and unique event,” says Jean Naudé, Groot Constantia CEO. “We are looking forward to attending and representing Groot Constantia and South Africa. We have little doubt that our wines will perform exceptionally at the tasting events – the quality of Groot Constantia’s wines has been proven time and again through the accolades achieved at various awards ceremonies.”
For more information on Groot Constantia and its history visit www.grootconstantia.co.za.
Issued by Fusion Design Integrated Brand Agency on behalf of Groot Constantia