Groot Constantia dominates at Klink Awards

Lizo Mdali gives a cellar tour, as part of, the Groot Constantia Visitors Route Experience.

Groot Constantia is celebrating having received two Klink Awards, one for “the ultimate winelands experience”, which is awarded to the estate that is the perfect package, and the “SA wine icons” award, which is given to wineries that have invested time and passion into making quality wine.

Instead of a panel of judges tasting and rating local wines, in the Klink Awards it’s the consumer who votes through social media channels for their favourite wine farms, wines and food from the selected nominees.

Hundreds of nominations were received for the 2015 awards in 16 categories and were whittled down to a list of only 85 participants. South Africa’s oldest wine producing estate, Groot Constantia, beat four other nominees in the heritage category (these being Uitkyk, Mooiplaas, KWV Wine Emporium and Diemersdal Wine Estate) to walk away with the award.

In Groot Constantia’s 330 years of wine production it has collectively won 94 awards since 2003 – 22 of them in the last year.

Lizo Mdali, 25, is one of the Groot Constantia’s winetasting and cellar tour staff. He joined the estate 10 months ago after graduating from the Pinotage Youth Development Academy.

This one-year course is split into two parts of 40% each with students doing theory and personal development, and 20% practical. At the end of the course, some students get to work where they have done their practical, but, in Mr Mdali’s case, he sent his CV to Groot Constantia who were looking to employ nine people. Mr Mdali was one of eight to be accepted from the academy, the ninth came from somewhere else.

Asked why he applied to Groot Constantia, he said: “It’s where everything started. If you work at Groot Constantia you are qualified to work anywhere,” he said.

Groot Constantia is South Africa’s oldest wine producing farm with an uninterrupted record of wine production since its inception in 1685.

Spending most of his time with foreigners in the tasting room he has learnt about many places including Haiti, Singapore and the Philippines. He also wants to learn Portuguese.

Mr Mdali said the academy had also changed the mindset of many black people when it came to wine. Hesitating, he reveals that many used to mix wine with Coke, now some of the students lead tours called Kasi to Kasi, a colloquial word for township.

Mr Mdali recently made a conscious decision not to drink alcohol but before this his favourite Groot Constantia wine was their cabernet sauvignon for its full-bodied taste and dryness.

The Visitors Route Experience costs R95 and allows guests to follow a specially designed circular route starting at the Iziko cultural history museum in the Manor House, the original wine production cellar from 1791; the Cloete Cellar, which now houses a wine museum and tasting room; and a self-guided cellar and vineyard audio-tour.

Groot Constantia estate is today owned by the Groot Constantia Trust, a non profit company that is committed to maintaining and restoring this national monument which is South Africa’s oldest and best known wine estate.