Monday, April 9, 2012

New Zealand, Part V

Marlborough...we could have spent our entire honeymoon there.

Since we decided that this would be our splurge location, we booked a room with a balcony at Stonehaven Homestay. We were not disappointed.  Our hosts Paulette and John were lovely, the room was comfortable and elegant (with complimentary port and sherry!), and the view...well, it speaks for itself.

We had planned to bike around to vineyards on our second day there, but John checked the weather for us and since it would be raining, he encouraged us to go out that afternoon.  We biked to Wairau River for lunch, then down to Renwick and made our way back.  I was a little anxious, having not been on a bike since my pretty princess pink two-wheeler with the banana seat and plastic streamers, but John tuned them up and adjusted the seat, and with some confident words of encouragement, we were off.  Michael had a little flag on his bike, and I spent much of our ride giving him shit about it.  He aloofly informed me I was just jealous.

We didn't know what to expect from Marlborough, or from wine tastings in general, but we found the whole experience accessible, friendly, and tremendously informative.  Everyone was approachable, and more than happy to talk about their vineyard, different growing techniques, soil quality, and which wines they liked and why.  At Te Whare Ra (far and away our favorite wine of the trip - and no wonder, they don't distribute in the US...), Jason spoke easily about his experiences on the big vineyard operations in Australia, and his passion for the small biodynamic winery he and his wife have made into a family business. 

So, lesson learned.  If travelling through Marlborough, budget a few extra days to relax, drink a few bottles, and enjoy the laid back,  refined-but-not-snobbish, uniquely New Zealand countryside. 

the view from our balcony
the map Paulette gave us - her recommendations are circled (free tastings); the red arrows are our favorites

light lunch on the terrace at Wairau River

our rental bikes at Te Whare Ra

beautiful tree at Huia

Highfield Estate

the wee Focus at Spy Valley

Riesling from Highfield, bread from the local farmer's market, cheese from Countdown, and a novel from downstairs = perfect afternoon

we highly recommend Stonehaven!

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