I didn’t really know what to expect with this tour – if we would have to spit out our wine after tasting it, or if there were going to be a bunch of wine-know it alls around, and I would feel horribly out of place. As it turned out, the tour was 50% senior citizens, and the rest were a hodge-podge of Ozzies on some break or vacation.
We started out on the drive to the first winery – well a winery and cheesery. They had a wonderful cafe there, and it was warm out so we ate outside. The cherry blossoms were being blown off the trees and right into our meals – hopefully there were edible. We had four glasses of wine (part glasses, mind you) at the first stop.
Second stop was the Penegrine winery just down the street. The building had one some architectural awards, but in my humble opinion, looked like that A. Erikson dude from Vancouver barfed up concrete all over what looked like a typical tin NZ sheep shack. Luckily, the crapitecture had no bearings on the wine. I ended up buying a rather cheap bottle of red pinot noir from this place, as it was the best pinot noir I had tasted. One of the presenters asked us if we had any questions, and one of the ozzies replied “Please sir, can I have some more?” in a wonderful British accent. I think it was then we realized we were all getting a little drunk.
Then off to Waitiri Creek to drink wine outside of a church. This would not be the first time for me to drink wine in a church on this trip (and not meaning drinking wine in a Catholic tradition of the blood of Christ, I mean getting myself tipsy!). They had this fabulous Rose which was very “clean”. It was a word that I thought fit the wine, but I really had no idea what I was talking about. Then, the next wine came around, and the guy that was telling us about them described it as “clean”. The girl I was sitting with and I started laughing, and we embarassed the presenter guy. He actually went red.
The final stop on our tour was the Hayes Lake winery, which is owned by Robb Hay of all people. Those crazy Scots get everywhere, but they made their home in the Central Otago/ Dunedin region, so it was nice to hear someone with the same last name as me (that was another thing that was wonderful as well, because no one has misspelled my name very often here, no added e’s or es’s on the end). They had this wonderful champagne-like bubbly wine, I think they called it methode-traditionelle, meaning they made it in the exact same way as they make it in Champagne in France, but they don’t have the registered trademark permissions to call it Champagne.
From there, we wandered back home, I went to my hostel, then wandered around town. For my last night in Queenstown, I wanted to have a nice meal,so I found a cafe called “Vudu” that had reasonably priced main dishes. Their special was a Venison Sausage, with a cranberry, onion and mushroom side dish, with mashed potato, pumpkin and garlic. It was marvelous. And, compared to the rest of the stuff in Queenstown, was SO cheap!