Melvyn Minnaar: Real Housewife of Constantia?

By , 3 May 2023



Full disclosure: I’ve not seen any Real Housewives, whether from Potomac, Pretoria or Pofadder, on TV, but, boy! do I love the conniving concept of this series, the dripping satire. It has spread through the ether with great speed since 2006 and in recent times crossed the Atlantic to Africa.

As we speak, there is Die Real Housewives van die Wynlande stirring up the local social media in the dustiest of storms. Whew! A special nervy touch for us in the business of wine and its culture is that one of the wealthy, leisurely ladies currently in and on show is the wife of a Mr Big in the industry.

Comment columns are bursting at the seams with venomous, envious and all matter of other emotional jabs and jostles. Good for the networks to waylay our attention from the darkness of a miserable world. The best satire (and hence comment on the state of society) is that which seems to be generated by itself – a stand-alone, unselfconscious ‘Ding an sich’. as that great bachelor of Enlightenment, Emmanuel Kant, would have whispered to himself.

Without access to the networks inhabited by the housewives, I have no idea whether they drink wine, but being local gals of the winelands, you would hope so.

My biggest question, though, would be whether they hold their Riedels or Zaltos by the stem. Do they observe proper vinous etiquette? Or do they simply gossip over bowls of wine clutched in one or two hands, finger-printing their daily dramas on the expensive glass?

That style of drinking wine is, it seems, the American way, judging from wine’s presence in soapies and other TV entertainments from that country. The concept, not to mention purpose of the Reidel/Zalto glass’s stem, have evaded bourgeoise protocol.

How real and other housewives hold their glasses tickles my mind and so, too, do I wonder what the dear Mrs A. Lochner de Villiers thought of the Klein Constantia wine poured into her glass at one of the glamorous garden parties in those heady days of the 1930s.

In the elegant new book about that history-soaked estate called Klein Constantia – The Home of Vin de Constance, a bunch of cheerful snaps of one such event suggests that it was then a social party paradise for which today’s rich ‘real housewives’ would leave their husbands.’s intrepid Joanne Gibson and Malu Lambert are the scribes of this delicious publication – the latter painting the recent bloom time (and the complex, alchemical chronicle of the estate’s famous sweet wine), while the former, the country’s foremost researcher of wine history, spills the beans on a particularly interesting period in the farm’s centuries-old story –  that of when it became the De Villiers’ property, exactly 110 years ago.

Mr and Nrs A. Lochner de Villiers.

Mrs A. Lochner de Villiers was an American heiress, Clara Hussey (yes, that Constantia vineyard is part of the story), and got married at 42 (a relatively advanced age for that time) to the charming Braam Lochner de Villiers (not quite a youngster himself) from Paarl, a ‘boere-oujongkêrel’ who had a lady’s fashion shop named La Mode.

American money facilitated the acquisition for 8 250 pounds.

Clara was hardly a ‘housewife’ in any sense of word, past or present, but she was a married woman and a hostess of note. She had used her family wealth to own, with her spouse, an historic Constantia farm. The high society odds couldn’t have been loftier – and a wondrous prequel to today’s ultra-riche aspirations to possess a nicely-named, old wine estate.  

Joanne Gibson, in an earlier article quoted this from the March 1928 South African Lady’s Pictorial: “The lovely home of Mr and Mrs Lochner de Villiers, with its magnificent lawns, open-air swimming bath, tennis courts, and countless other attractions, is one of the most fascinating places in the whole Peninsula, with a host and hostess, too, who usually have something new up their sleeve in the way of entertainment, there is little wonder that invitations to the popular farm are always eagerly accepted.”

Perhaps, then, Clare (as she called herself in the Cape) was indeed the first real housewife of Constantia – she did after all own the first deep freeze in town.

Die Real Housewives van die Wynlande airs Thursdays at 20:00 on kykNET (DStv 144). The book Klein Constantia – The Home of Vin de Constance is available from the tasting room at R595 a copy.

  • Melvyn Minnaar has written about art and wine for various local and international publications over the years. The creativity that underpins these subjects is an enduring personal passion. He has served on a few “cultural committees”.


11 comment(s)

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    Tom McDonald | 26 May 2023

    John Jingle – seen your comment they are from Pretoria. Where do they all come from?

    Cilla | 7 May 2023

    I love watching the Real Housewives of the Wynlande, my favourite housewife is definitely Anita wife of KWV boss, love, love, love her

    Jeppie | 5 May 2023

    “ would be whether they hold their Riedels or Zaltos by the stem” – well you would have died when Anita KWV put the entire champagne flute in her mouth…

    Hierdie is definitief n show van die ryk Wynlande inkomers, not the humble, old money and family focused Boland.

    Johann | 4 May 2023

    Really like this article. Read more about La Mode here …

    Pat | 4 May 2023

    HW of die Wynlande is really good, enjoyable production. On a par with the American counterpart.

    John Jingle | 4 May 2023

    Most of these “real” “housewives” van die Wynlande are not even from the Winelands. Their disgusting behaviour on TV and excuses to pray to the money god is worse than anything that some or other American influencer could have come up. The decay of society is all too real. Might as well call the show “The real housewives of Pretoria that moved to the Winelands because they want to try something other than a double brandy and coke”.

      GillesP | 4 May 2023

      I am completely agreeing with your comment. Besides the fact that this is the level of quality TV shows have to offer these days, I find that the Housewifes of South Africa shows are even more uncalled for in a country where poverty is so rampant. This is provocation at its best , no matter the colour of skin of the participants. This is what divides society, this is what drives crime and should be avoided at all cost. Nothing wrong with people being wealthy but for God sake, keep it discreet and low key unless you want more unrest and looting in this country which is not USA or Dubai or whatever.

    H Pretorius | 3 May 2023

    Housewife’s of the Wynlande – none , absolutely no advertisement for wine. Or wine culture.They drink whiskey and when they tried a white wine the wife of KWV CEO described the wine as a “k,,, Wyn.”One of them did not even know the abbreviation KWV .

    No taste ,class or style usually attributed to women in the Western Cape wine world.The only thing some of them have in common with Cape wine tradition and culture is their age.

    Kwispedoor | 3 May 2023

    You can have all the money in the world, do your hair, put on your designer clothes, and pour your expensive wine in your fancy house. But the moment you bowl clutch, all elegance is out the window. Haha! 😉 And yes – it’s indeed a very scarce occurrence when a movie actually gets this right.

    GillesP | 4 May 2023

    Do you think this type of broadcasting is appropriate in today’s South Africa economic societal situation?

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