05 December 2016
I recently had the pleasure of exploring Cape Town’s rich and famously historic Constantia Wine Valley when I hopped on City Sightseeing’s Purple Wine Tour.
I was pleased to find City Sightseeing back at its usual V&A Waterfront tour office, which has undergone a nice revamp.
However, you can also hop on at 81 Long Street (stop 5), but be sure to catch a Blue Mini Peninsula Tour– this bus connects you to the Purple Wine Tour at Constantia Nek (stop 21).
Hop off at Constantia Nek to begin your Purple WIne Tour journey. (Image: Jane Bloggs)
The Blue Mini Peninsula Tour buses depart from the V&A Waterfront every 20 minutes during the summer months. The first of the Purple Wine Tour buses departs from Constantia Nek at 9.55am and the last at 4.45pm.
At the V&A Waterfront, my friend and I hopped on a Blue Mini Peninsula Bus and then curled our way through the city, passing the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, the University of Cape Town and other famous city sights. We listened to the interesting and informative audio commentary, which is available in 15 languages and has a special channel for kids.
After Long Street, we made our next big stop at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, where many of our fellow bus riders hopped off.
After that, our bus navigated its way through the winding, verdant roads up to Constantia Nek, where the Purple Wine Tour and Blue Mini Peninsula Tour routes connect.
Here, just below the newly opened Constantia Nek restaurants, Harbour House and La Parada (if you’re hungry after your tour and manage to get a table, you can enjoy a meal at either of these restaurants), we hopped off and waited a short time for the Purple Wine Tour bus to arrive.
Beau Constantia is within walking distance from the Constantia Nek stop. (Image: Jane Bloggs)
Alternatively, as Beau Constantia’s entrance is a mere 20-30 metre walk away from this stop, you are free to start off your wine tour there.
We decided to stick to the City Sightseeing order of things, where the first stop is at South Africa’s oldest and most historic wine farm, Groot Constantia, followed by Eagles’ Nest (formerly a part of Groot Constantia) and, finally, Beau Constantia, before you connect with the Blue Mini Peninsula Tour again.
Groot Constantia is the first stop on the Purple Wine Tour. (Image: Jane Bloggs)
Groot Constantia (stop 25) is undoubtedly one of Cape Town’s most beautiful wine farms. It feels like an oasis, enclosed by its ancient oaks, and offers fun for everyone.
Enjoy a meal at either of the estate’s two excellent restaurants, Jonkershuis or Simon’s Deli. Simon’s Deli also has a new indoor market, Taste of Simon’s, situated near the restaurant.
The manor house, which you can tour for a small fee, is also well worth visiting and if you have time, why not browse the new weekend market, too?
Tuck into a delicious cheese board from Simon's Deli. (Image: Jane Bloggs)
We decided to share a cheese board at Simon’s Deli – the more relaxed of the two restaurants, though by no means any less lovely – before we went to the wine cellar to explore a bit. Here, you can enjoy a guided tour, buy some merchandise and wine and, of course, do some delicious wine tasting too!
Prices for the above tasting generally start at a minimum of R75, so make sure to have your cash or card on hand. (Prices may be slightly less at the other two estates, but R55 is generally the bare minimum you can expect to pay for a wine tasting.)
We walked back through the magical Groot Constantia grounds, which overlook the vineyards, with Muizenberg and Kalk Bay lying in the far distance, to Jonkershuis Restaurant, where we managed to happily secure a table, despite it being very busy.
Red bus ticket holders get R5 off their wine tasting or the cellar tour and wine tasting. (Image: Jane Bloggs)
At Jonkershuis, we did a mini wine tasting (50ml tasters start at R8 so it’s very affordable, though there are carafe and 250ml options, too). We tried some house wines, including the Pinotage (a locally produced, purely South African wine), Sauvignon Blanc (arguably the estate’s most famous wine) and a pink Blanc de Noir.
Then, once we were well satisfied after enjoying some good food and fine wine at Cape Governor Simon van der Stel’s beloved Groot Constantia, we hopped back on the bus and headed to Eagles’ Nest.
There’s a short walk up to the wine tasting “restaurant”, if I can call it that, but it’s worth it because you’ll quickly discover that Eagles’ Nest is well named and feels like it’s perched on high just like an eyrie (though there’s more behind the name …)
Eagle's Nest is the second stop on the Purple Wine Tour. (Image: Jane Bloggs)
Step through the doors on to the veranda and you will find yourself immersed in a secluded garden, dotted with shaded picnic tables where visitors enjoy sharing good wine and cheese boards.
We didn’t stay here long before we hopped back onto the Purple Wine Tour bus and made our way back to Constantia Nek.
After a short walk in the warm sunshine (which is why you should bring sunscreen and hats with you on this summer tour) past the lime-green, leafy vineyards, we arrived at Beau Constantia. Here, the views rendered us breathless, as we overlooked the Constantia Valley from on high. The bathroom at Beau is even known as a “loo with a view” and when you visit, you will easily see why …
Beau Constantia is known for its "loo with a view". (Image: Jane Bloggs)
This boutique wine farm’s tasting room and wine bar is beautiful, with its glass-fronted windows overlooking the vineyards. Soon, though, there will be a new Chef’s Warehouse restaurant opening here, so you’ll be able to enjoy a great meal with a view, too!
Because Groot Constantia is really the only place at present to grab a proper meal, if you want something more hearty than cheese and charcuterie boards, I’d really recommend having lunch and doing a wine tasting there first, before perhaps ending off with another cheese board at Eagles’ Nest or Beau Constantia, as you enjoy more wine at the two remaining, wonderful Constantia estates.
Groot Constantia, much like Eagle's Nest and Beau Constantia, is picturesque. (Image: Jane Bloggs)
After that, we enjoyed a dessert at Harbour House Constantia Nek before we joined up with the Blue Mini Peninsula Bus once more.
We travelled down the picturesque valley into Hout Bay, then curled along the coastline and passed through Camps Bay, Clifton, Bantry Bay, Sea Point and beyond, with ample stops along the way, until we reached our final destination and hopped off for the last time at the Waterfront.
A one-day red bus ticket costs R190 for adults and R90 for children aged five to 17, though adult ticket holders only pay R170 when they purchase their tickets online.
A minimum exploration time of 30 to 90 minutes is recommended for any of the estates, but be sure to devote your longest visiting period to Groot Constantia as it offers the most to see and do.
Buy your red bus ticket online at a discounted rate and enjoy the views from our open-top Purple Wine Tour buses. (Image: Jane Bloggs)
Wine estate addresses and opening times:
Groot Constantia (Groot Constantia Road) – daily from 9am-5.30pm, except on Good Friday and Christmas Day.
Eagles’ Nest (Old Constantia Main Road) – daily from 10am-4.30pm.
Beau Constantia (Glen Alpine) – daily from 11am–6pm, except on Mondays, Good Friday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.