One of the best holidays I have ever had was a few years ago touring around New Zealand with my best friend in our hired camper van. Brilliant! I lived out there at the time and my friend came to visit so we decided to make the most out of our time and pack as much into those 2 weeks as possible. And pack it in we did! We caught up with friends in Auckland and did the touristy thing in Rotorua the highlight of which was a highly amusing Maori cultural evening involving learning the rudiments of the hakka and dinner from a hangi – not a culinary highlight but fun. There were wineries in Hawkes Bay, a bit of culture in Wellington, whale watching in Kaikoura, a wander through the devastatingly beautiful Abel Tasman National Park,(above) more wineries in Marlborough, getting drenched in Norn Irish style horizontal rain at Pancake Rocks and the Glaciers and after a few more wineries in Otago, getting the adrenalin pumping whilst jet boating in Queenstown. It was hectic and we covered a lot of miles but even that was really pleasurable because every time we turned a corner another picture perfect landscape opened up in front of us. The only downside was not having enough time to do everything we wanted (oh yes, and emptying the camper van loo).
Being both professional wineos, visiting wineries featured unsurprisingly highly on our to-do list. There is nothing quite like meeting the people behind the wines, seeing the vineyards where the grapes are grown, and sitting outside in the beautiful sunshine having a glass of something delicious and tucking into a platter of lunchtime nibbles. Wine nerd heaven. It never ceases to amaze me how different wineries are and how their philosophy and attitude to wine pervades everything from the physical building to the set up of their cellar door. The New Zealanders have really caught on to wine tourism and are all geared up for people visiting their country and touring around the wineries. I was sometimes the girl they talked to at the cellar door at my winery. My favourites were the people on the bike tour who would turn up red-faced, wobbly-legged and gasping for water as we were the last stop. A sip of Sauvignon Blanc usually sorted them out. If wine is your thing, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to visit a winery or two when you travel. What a lovely way to learn a thing or two about the world.
Here at JN Wine we do our best to bring the vineyards and the winemakers to our customers as it is somewhat impractical to bring customers to the vineyards. This weekend we are lucky to have Matt Sutherland from the fabulous Dog Point winery in NZ coming online to chat with our customers in Crossgar. Matt will be talking through the wines and we will have them open for tasting to create as close an experience to visiting the cellar door as we can muster. Please come and join us in the shop from 3-4 this Saturday.