After Simon van der Stel's death in 1712, Constantia was subdivided into Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia and Bergvliet. From 1714 Olof Bergh, and his wife, Anna de Koningh, farmed at Groot Constantia. Anna inherited the farm after his death in 1724.
Anna de Koningh, daughter of Captain de Koninck of the ship Drommedaris during the time of Governor Simon Van Der Stel was born in Batavia, one of three children of the slave known as Angela of Bengal. She was born in bondage, circa 1661, and was most likely owned by Johan Anthoniszoon van Riebeeck de Caep de Goede Hoop.
Not much is known about the period of Bergh's ownership, but it is generally assumed that he did little about viticulture on the farm. This is supported by the fact that during this time the wines of Johannes Colijn of Klein Constantia (the present De Hoop op Constantia), began to draw attention overseas and became known as Constantia wine.
When Bergh died in 1724, his wife, who inherited the farm, also appears to have neglected viticulture. There were only 1126 litres of red wine in the cellar when she died in 1734. The inventory of her estate, which includes Groot Constantia and provides the first known list of movable property on the farm, refers to a loft above the wine cellar used for storage but none of the goods kept there had anything to do with viticulture.
It is doubtful, in fact, whether she ever lived at the farm. It is not even mentioned in her will, suggesting that she intended it to be sold. The inventory gives the names of 27 slaves who worked at Groot Constantia, all of them described as boys, most of them having come from the Indian Archipelago and Madagascar. One was from Anna's mother's birthplace, Bengal; another was a Zulu from Natal called Snaphaan.
According to the Groot Constantia website “Constantia was bought by European courts in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries in preference to Yquem, Tokay & Madeira.”
Onwership of Groot Costantia changed many times whilst the reputation of Grand Constance Wyn (wine) grew. During the Eighteenth century the sweet wines of Constantia received international acclaim and became known throughout the world as “Constantia Wyn”.
A sketch of Groot Constantia in 1741 by the German architect and draughtsman Johan Wolfgang Heydt. Image courtesy of JW Heydt Allerneuster geograhischer und topographischer schauplatz vin Afrika, Wilhelmsdorff.
Oloff Bergh, former soldier and owner of Groot Constantia, image courtesy of the Cape Town Archives Repository (CAR).
Anna de Koningh, the child of Batavian slaves, who inherited the farm from her husband in 1724. Images courtesy of the Cape Town Archives Repository (CAR).