When planning your vacation do you choose the location based solely upon the cuisine of said locale?
Do you plan your daily meals with an attention to detail that only an athirst epicurean can muster?
Do you have a link to Woochi on your favorites menu?
Does the wine portion of your weekly grocery bill provoke the checker at your local supermarket to recitation of passages from The Big Book when at the register?
If you answered yes to any or all of these, well, then New Zealand and more specifically, Waiheke (affectionately referred to as the Island of Wine), is the vacation destination for you.
Upon arrival at our island retreat we immediately scoped out the vineyard geography and jumped right into the sauce with a lovely degustation menu and wine pairing supper par excellence at Mudbrick Vineyard Restaurant. Can you say 10 courses of gastronomic bliss combined with wines good enough to sate the Bacchanalia??? Nothing like a three hour meal to kick start a vacation in paradise I tell ya. Needless to say, a return taxi to our home away from home was unnecessary for at meal's end our sommelier needed only to turn each of us on our respective sides, give our newly acquired spherical forms a gentle nudge, stimulating our party of four into a wobbly roll straight out the vineyard gate and back to our point of origin. Um, yeah.
Day two began early for there was much more wine to be had and therefore stomachs needed to be lined before the next round of imbibing could commence. Carbohydrates consumed signaled the arrival of our designated driver ("DD") at 10:00 am to whisk us off to our first watering hole, Peninsula Estate Vineyard.
Situated atop a picturesque bluff overlooking Hauraki Gulf, this little vintner bestowed upon us quite a surprise...a rose that didn't suck! In fact, the Oneroa Bay 2005 Rose was outstanding and I have been kicking myself since leaving the Peninsula grounds for not having purchased a case of their deep pink ambrosia. Taps be gone!
Anyway, four substantial glasses of vino under our belts meant that we needed to board the shuttle for transport to our next island wine-o stop, Kennedy Point Vineyard.
There we toured the vineyard, olive groves and danced about the barrels of bliss in the back.
We also sampled a wonderful sauvignon blanc and cabernet franc (at least that's what my wine sodden cerebrum seems to conjure of our time there) at which point the mistress of the cellar door began to pour some of their award-winning olive oil into little tasting wells. I don't know, maybe it was the six glasses of wine each of us had previously consumed or maybe it was the outstanding flavor of the oil, but we didn't leave Kennedy Point Vineyard until we'd cumulatively purchased seven bottles of olive oil. Yes, seven. Moving right along.
Next our designated driver spirited us off via winding bush flanked trespass to Passage Rock Vineyard.
While there we sampled their lovely and light '06 Voignier, scintillating '04 Sisters and topped off the duo with a sampling of their '05 Syrah, reveling in all of it's peppery goodness. Always remember this...nine fully loaded glasses of wine portends flagrant credit card usage. Lucky for the folks at Passage Rock. Mom and I left with a case of their nectars.
Three vineyards visited meant sustenance in the form of food was in order. So, our medium-like DD, divining our desire to stuff our faces or risk having to drag us all home by our bootstraps, dropped us at yet another vineyard, Stonyridge, for a welcome respite from the distillery expedition to obtain some much needed grub.
I took pictures of the delightful dishes for fear that I would forget the mouthwatering muckamuck set before us amidst our wine-induced haze. Methinks I inhaled the seared tuna and olives...
Needless to say, the travelers four didn't move about much upon our return to our cliff top beach bungalow. Nope, pretty much we were all at one with the sofa. Not a painful place to be when you're nursing hangovers amidst this panorama...
Stay tuned! Definitely more Middle Earth to come...there be Hobbits in the future.
Wine tour provided by Ananda Tours, Waiheke - Auckland, New Zealand.
By the way peeps, the picture in the previous post was photoshopped at a booth providing said silly tourist pics at the Sky Tower in Auckland. We weren't really hanging off the side of the spindle-like monument!