Monday, 28 April 2008

V = Vineyards

Growing up in New Zealand, the countryside was agricultural. Paddocks full of sheep and cattle, the occasional crops. Nothing fancy.

By the late 1970s, in parts of the country, land use began to change. Grapes were being planted in the hotter, dryer, more barren provinces. We wondered if this new-fangled fad would catch on. Kiwis drank beer, not wine - though I remember my dad, always interested in new experiences, experimenting with wine one Christmas in the 1970s.

Now, driving though parts of New Zealand is not unlike driving through Chateauneuf du Pape – everywhere you look you see vines. Only an hour or so from Wellington, in a very traditional farming community, vines are rapidly replacing sheep and cows (though with high global dairy prices the cows are fighting back). A small rural village is now a trendy wine village, surrounded by dozens of country cottages transformed from shearers’ quarters to luxurious weekend retreats, nestled in the vines.

We often drive over the hill for lunch at a vineyard, or for an afternoon of wine tasting in this region renowned for its Pinot Noir. In summer we revel in the heat, eating outside and sheltering from the sun. In winter, we sit close to an open fire, but sampling the wares gives us hope that summer will come again.

I love being able to visit the vineyards, sample the wine, talk to the winemakers, and take home my favourite produce.

After a relaxed lunch at Coney Wines or Alana Estate, we always stop at Palliser on the way home, to pick up their Riesling, sumptuous chardonnay, and when it is in stock, their delicious bubbles. Atarangi is one of the most established vineyards in the region, a pleasant spot to relax, and famous for its Pinot Noir, though at $65 you pay as much for the name as for the wine. But their chardonnays are to die for and their Rose is always perfect for a summer lunch. And for a treat on a winter’s night with a chocolate dessert, we are very partial to Winslow’s Cabernet Liqueur, which fills the nose with the spices of a Christmas pudding.

Now what will we have tonight?

7 comments:

Indigo Bunting said...

Dear Mali (and others): The right side of this post is cut off, leaving words out for me. Is this happening to anyone else? I'll come back...perhaps it's a fluke.

Helen said...

Yes, it's happening to me too. If you're pressed for time just put the words back in for the chocolate dessert part.

Mali said...

There, I've fixed it. I hope. Phew after that I need another wine!

Bridgett said...

We have a little newfangled wine country out state in Missouri, too. It's like a teeny little Germany.

Mrs Slocombe said...

I'm going to Dan Murphy's. Right now.

Indigo Bunting said...

I love wine. And, I hate to admit it, but I love really good wine, which I'm not really in the tax bracket to enjoy regularly. Turns out wine is also among the most dangerous of alcoholic beverages for me, as I tend to keep drinking it. And now that the alcohol content has gone up on so many of them, it's even more dangerous...

Mali said...

Bridgett: Do you visit it often? (I guess the kids aren't old enough to be the designated drivers yet!)

Mrs S: What did you buy?

IB: I saw a man on TV who turned 101 the other day. He likes red wine. He said "they say wine is dangerous for you, but it's taken its time killing me!" Dangerous only to our bank accounts perhaps?