Constantia Valley is serious about Sauvignon Blanc

Posted by Lorraine Kearney on 4 May 2022

‘Sauvignon Blanc needs an ocean view and its face in the wind.’ Beau Constantia winemaker Megan van der Merwe is explaining why the Constantia Valley is so suited to growing the varietal.

It’s got to do with that cool sea breeze coming off False Bay, the morning sun, a warm summer and soils that originate from 200 million-year-old granite. There is also Table Mountain sandstone higher up the slopes. And the altitude, of course – here, vines are planted from 55m above sea level to 420m. That’s quite high when you are up at the top, the whole region unfolding in front of you.

Sauvignon Blanc grapes on Constantia Wine Route

It benefits from an Oceanic or Atlantic influenced climate rather than a classical “Mediterranean” climate.

There is also the rain. Groot Constantia winemaker Boela Gerber says the area gets a rather wet 1 100mm a year. This means the vines can have shallower roots, and no irrigation is needed on the higher slopes. This adds up to good in times of climate change.

It is about 10km from Steenberg to Eagles’ Nest, with a clutch of wine estates squeezed into a narrow band between the suburbs and SANParks. They make up only 0.4% of South African wine-growing land.

It’s one of South Africa’s oldest wine-growing regions, and Groot Constantia is South Africa’s oldest wine farm.

The view from the top of Beau Constantia

Constantia Wine Route

Beau Constantia, Buitenverwachting, Constantia Glen, Constantia Royale, Eagles’ Nest, Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, Silvermist and Steenberg are all part of the Serious About Sauvignon initiative of the Constantia Wine Route. Together, they have 421ha under vine, of which 180ha are planted to Sauvignon Blanc, or more than 40%.

No surprise there – it is good Sauvignon Blanc growing territory. Constantia’s microclimate is an optimal combination of soil, wine and sun, says VinPro viticulturist Etienne Terblanche.

And all this combines to give Constantia Sauvignon Blanc a certain something – it’s difficult to explain, but once you taste it, you know.

Taste for yourself: in celebration of International Sauvignon Blanc Day on 6 May, the nine farms will be offering a tasting of their vintage wines. From 6-8 May, visitors will have the opportunity to taste a current and older Sauvignon Blanc vintage at each estate.

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