WHEN someone says “this is not my first rodeo” it does not necessarily imply it is only their second. One can have participated in or spectated at many rodeos. By doing this, you learn to know what to expect, and what questions to ask. So when Matt Sterne invited me to come along on his new Constantia Wine Walk, I enquired if it was to be a walk, or – gasp! – a hike.
“It’s a 6km walk. There’s a 15-minute incline at the start but the rest is flat,” he replied via email which he probably regrets now, because this is not strictly true and I have it in writing. As a hiker, Matt does see this as a walk. For me, it fell firmly into hike territory, which I grumbled about throughout, even though there was wine. There is a lot of uphill (and therefore downhill), the terrain is frequently rough, and it’s longer than 6km. Go on, ask the internet what the difference is between a walk and a hike and you’ll get as many answers as there are results. This is only my opinion and experience, and forewarned is forearmed.
Wear comfortable and appropriate footwear for starters. Be prepared for a strenuous walk (which I’ll call it for the purposes of this story). Being new and having media along to try it out means Matt has taken the constructive criticism on board: “I am more than happy to tailor the walk for those who prefer a stroll and I even have a route in mind that would exclude that initial hill and follow a flatter route around Groot Constantia. I may even make that the primary route in time,” he told me. Wear sunblock, take water, put on a hat (or use a parasol).
The walk begins at Groot Constantia at around 8.45am and takes you a fair way up the mountain for a spectacular view of False Bay. Matt is an engaging and highly likeable guide who has loads of information at his fingertips about the history of Groot Constantia and the surround area, and the famous Constantia Wyn. Ever wondered why Ladies Mile is called Ladies Mile? No, me neither but I do now. There’s a welcome stop at the highest point of the excursion for some bubbly before meandering back down to the tasting room for more wine. It is, after all, a Wine Walk. From there, you exit Groot Constantia and proceed to Klein Constantia for another wine tasting, where I shocked everyone by saying no thank you to Vin de Constance. I don’t like sweet wine, okay? This legendary drink is wasted on me; rather let someone who loves it have it.
From there, you go to Buitenverwachting for more wine, and a delicious platter. I’m safely assuming this part because I left the walk at Klein Constantia (at just over 7km). Thereafter you are shuttled back to Groot Constantia where you would have left your car, around 1.30 – 2pm, depending on the pace you set.
For the properly prepared whose expectations have been adequately managed, I recommend this as an enjoyable morning; to be clear, I didn’t hate it, I just wasn’t ready for it. All the information you need is here.
- Personal recommendation: pop in at Foxcroft at High Constantia for a delicious French pastry and a coffee before you set off.