Congratulations everyone! We have made it round the corner of another winter. Phil has peeked out of his hole, the days are getting longer and already most of our New Years resolutions have been broken at least once. But take heart folks as tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life and time to start moving in the direction you want to travel.
Speaking of travel…I am dedicating this blog to a magical place of scenic wonder, beautiful friendly people and some incredibly delicious wines. A place made magical through the boundless optimism and creativity of it’s population and most recently the home of the Hobbit’s.
I had the pleasure of spending three weeks in this magical land back in 2005 with my husband Hal. Having made the acquaintance of a Kiwi name of George Munro while on a Great Barrier reef dive expedition, Hal and I were some shown the welcome and hospitality of our Kiwi cousins. George extended an invitation to his home in Aukland for dinner after we had wrapped up our time in Australia and am I glad we accepted his invitation! George picked us up our hotel, took us home to meet the wife and his two boys, gave us a wonderful dinner and then spent no less than three hours helping us retool our vacation in New Zealand with copious notes of attractions, sites and wineries to see. His insights helped turn a vacation into an experience unlike no other.
On the North island we spent time in the Bay of Islands, Rotorua and the Hawkes Bay Area where there is an intense wine production industry. George and his wife even came down from Aukland to give us a tour of the Hawkes Bay wineries as George grew up in the area. With over 100 vineyards and 70 wineries you could spend literally months touring and tasting but we only had the one afternoon with our new friends company. This area is perfect for growing the same grape varieties that make up the best Bordeaux wines and a stellar winery producing an ultra premium quality European style is Sileni Winery. With stunning view of the nearby mountain range and a sleek tasting room with great staff this winery is an eye catcher. With red blends and stunning Chardonnays plus restaurants serving fresh New Zealand specialties the Napier/Hawkes Bay Area is not to be missed. Just a few of the other wineries of note are Esk,Black Barn, Craggy Range and the ominously named Spy Valley.
While the North Island has a certain feeling of Emerald Isle to it with it’s lush rolling green hills and millions of sheep, the beauty of the Mountain range of the Southern Island will make you think you have died and gone to heaven. Nested at the foot of these mountains are lush farms filled with orchards and vineyards producing some of the best produce in the world. While cooler than the North Island the Otago region has thriving wine industry of it’s own. Mainly growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay these wineries have a reputation of quality and expression of place in the wines produced. Felton Road makes some renowned Pinot’s but a real dark horse is Chard Farm Winery. Having hired a local tour driver and toured Felton Road and a few other producers our driver said he knew of a nice little winery if we were open to suggestion. While the drive along a precipitous shear drop was nerve racking the wines were divine. The tasting room bar was an old boiler cut in half but everything else was the whole deal. Drop dead best wine was the Finla Mor with intense notes of cherries and dark berries balanced with an even acidity.
Trips like this one are once in a lifetime for most of us but oh happy days I will be heading back there is just over a month!
Talk to you soon and cheers !!!