Napoleon relics on display at Groot Constantia

A selection of historical wine artifacts are on exhibit at Groot Constantia until 21 June and visitors are being offered a rare chance to view these relics, which unveil the history of the wine that Napoleon Bonaparte drank while in exile on St Helena Island.

This unique exhibition, entitled ‘Wine of Exile: The wine of Napoleon on St Helena’ has been organised to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Napoleon and is a collaboration between the French Embassy in South Africa, Groot Constantia, Iziko Museums of South Africa, the Napoleon Foundation, the Government of St Helena, and the French National Domains of St Helena.

Items from the selected collections that will be on display – among many others – include cut-glass crystal wine goblets and glasses used by Napoleon while on St Helena; wine decanters; wine coolers; a ship decanter with outward sloping side and wide base for greater stability at sea; and the memoirs of Napoleons chamberlain that document details of Napoleon’s daily life on St Helena and his love for Constantia wyn.

The glass Napoleon used to drink his wine.

From 1815 until his death in 1821, Napoleon was banished to St Helena, an island located in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. Every month, 30 bottles of Groot Constantia wine would be shipped to the island.

Groot Constantia is a centuries-old brand that received international acclaim for its superior quality and began to fetch extremely high prices at well-attended auctions in many European cities, with emperors and kings, such as Napoleon, Frederick the Great of Prussia, and King of the French Louis Philippe all vying for their share.

‘With such a notable and celebrated history to this centuries-old South African brand, we are suitably excited to have this collaborative exhibition taking place at Groot Constantia,’ says Jean Naudè, CEO of Groot Constantia. ‘As South African’s oldest wine producing farm – in existence for 334 years this year – and a National Monument, Groot Constantia, and the wines produced on the estate, have historic importance and represent the Cape’s rich cultural and wine heritage, as well as occupying an important position in global wine history.’

Memoirs of Napoleon’s chamberlain, which document details of Napoleon’s daily life on St Helena.

The not-to-be-missed Wine of Exile exhibition will be open to the public as part of Groot Constantia’s Visitors Route experience until 21 June 2019.

For more information visit


Images: Supplied

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