The Hidden Gem of Nova Zonnestraal is our tunnel built in 1965 under the M3 highway. This unique space stores our wines, Constantia Royale and Dons Reserve, but is also rented out as a private function venue as well as for wine tastings.

Wine tastings are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays only from 11am to 4pm in our unusual location, where you can taste current and older vintages of the Constantia Royale plus the Don’s Reserve for R100 p/p.

Once inside there is no noise and just impeccable views of the entire Constantiaberg from the entrance, with the vines facing you. The Vineyards and the setting sun, it captures the eye.

More on the history of the tunnel from farm owner Lynn Rowand

Having been born on, married from, and now living on the property, as do my children and grandchildren, a little background information re the tunnel/highway is warranted.

In the early 1960’s, town planners and civil engineers decided a through road to Tokai was necessary to alleviate traffic hold ups on Herschel Walk, Constantia Main Road, and The Main Road.

Colloquially known as the Blue Route, the M3 attains freeway status once again as it passes over Wynberg Hill.

But in 1964 it was initially only a single track cutting through properties and farms that stood in its way. The farm, Zonnestraal, purchased by my father in 1936 from the Cloete’s of Alphen, was one of these properties.

Expropriation, in those days, was not without compensation. At first my father, and then my brother, after my father died in 1963, came to an agreement with the council that allowed us to create a tunnel under the freeway so that the property below, (Nova Zonnestraal) could be made accessible for farming activities to continue.

In 1965 pine trees were planted next to the highway to shield the farm from noise and traffic pollution. But, Pinus Radiatus have a limited life span and by 2014 were becoming a liability rather than an asset. Subsequently, they were felled and leylandiis were planted in their place.

(The Universities of Sussex and Southampton, both agree that leylandii is the best hedging plant and 40% better than any other species at filtering out pollution including particles from diesel engines.)

Driving the freeway, the views southwards towards the ocean and northwards towards the mountain, became the talk of the town!

In 2017, Don, my late husband, decided that the tunnel should be used for additional wine storage and renovations began. As you can see, they were sorely needed! Only once completed, did we realize what an incredible space it was, not only for wine storage but also for functions and the like. First family, followed by family and friends, followed by special clients and most recently, open to all.

The setting sun, shimmering as it sinks below Constantia Nek, is testament to the name Zonnestraal which means ‘ray of sunshine’ or ‘ray of sunlight’ in Dutch. Sonstraal in High Dutch. Hence, not only is the position of the tunnel unique, but the tunnel itself.

The family stepped up after my husband left us in 2019, and share the vision Don had for Constantia Royale and the tunnel.