Constantia Glen winemaker Justin van Wyk. Image: Supplied.
Constantia Glen winemaker Justin van Wyk. Image: Supplied.

Vineyards born from wildfires

By Sizwe Dlamini Time of article published Apr 7, 2018

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CAPE TOWN - The famous words by John D Rockefeller “I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity” come to mind when considering how the Constantia Glen wine estate was founded.

Constantia Glen winemaker Justin van Wyk says the wildfires of December 1999, which destroyed a lot of the natural vegetation and forest on the estate, is the occurrence that was really the genesis for vineyards being planted on the estate in 2000 and 2001. 

The wine estate on the upper reaches of Constantiaberg offers wine tasting experiences in the Winelands located 20 minutes from the Cape Town city centre.
It is in this spectacular setting where Van Wyk creates the signature Constantia Glen wines, each with its very own unique character.

Hailing from the Karoo, this hands-on winemaker loves seeing positive results and reaping the rewards of a successful harvest. His winemaking philosophy is to keep things simple and allow the grapes to do the work. 

Constantia Glen winemaker Justin van Wyk. Image: Supplied.
Van Wyk says with 29 hectares under vine, the estate prides itself on cultivating the vineyards sustainably and without any supplementary irrigation. 

The estate’s operating philosophy is to produce wines without any compromise for quality and to ensure that the wines speak of the unique growing conditions of our vineyards. “In other words, that the wines have a sense of place,” says Van Wyk. 

Constantia Glen’s long-term goal is to continue producing its wines sustainably and continue improving its efforts with the objective to produce some of South Africa’s “best Bordeaux-style reds and whites”.

He says in five year’s time “we will still be making wines in the same place with the same approach, but our vineyards will be five years older and the more mature our vineyards become, the more complex, textured and characterful our wines should be”.

Last year the estate introduced a new range of wines to the market called Van Wyk Family Wines. These are four wines made van Wyk in a collaboration between Constantia Glen and himself. 

“It has worked very well. The first vintage produced has now completely sold through, and the second vintage made by myself is available for tasting and purchase at the Constantia Glen tasting room. 

“The reason for doing this new range was to expand the business to produce additional ultra-premium wines from purchased grapes without infringing on our estate brand. These wines are quite different in style and using more Rhone and Mediterranean varieties in order to compliment and increase the range of offerings to customers that visit Constantia Glen,” he says.

Van Wyk says the estate’s greatest achievement is transforming the property from a burnt forest landscape in 1999 – that at the time employed only five people – to a “magnificent vineyard, with the vines all planted in a space of three years from 2000 to 2002, a winery built in 2006 and a tasting room opened in 2011; and ultimately the combination of our wine production and hospitality business today providing jobs for nearly 80 people”.


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