Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Holiday Musings - Napier

What bliss, what joy, what a wonderful way to holiday! The weather in Napier is decidedly divine, the wines delicious, the countryside breathtaking. This is why I love summer. This is why I'm trying to forget that I have to go back to work next week.

We've visisted so many vineyards, tasted so much wine (and a little beer & cider), seen so many beautiful hills and valleys, rivers and coastline, bought far too much wine (54 bottles and counting, oh dear), and enjoyed so much warming, cheering sunshine. How decidedly wonderful.

So, in a vague effort to try and remember what we've seen and where we've been, a few random notes and some poignant memory triggers from each place:
Day 1:
  • Zepelin (we arrived as they were wheeling out their open sign; red wines, only bought a rose),
  • Askerne (sister vineyard to Zepelin, included a red sticky),
  • Craggy Range (what an incredible setting! Picture below. Love the displays of the different rocks in the perspex cubes behind the bar, and the enormous picture window looking out to the ranges - who needs art when you have nature),
  • Te Mata (eep, memories where are you??? No, I'll have to wait for Simon's memory on that one. Ok, now we're both going Duh as we visit their website and remember exactly who they are - Coleraine. Duh!).
Oh gosh, where did we lunch???? Ooh, another vineyard -
  • Clearview Estate - where we lunched. Tim Turvey was a fantastic host and really looked after us - then we bumped into him at 2 more vineyards the next day!
  • Dinner at Restaurant Indonesia - which came highly recommended and very much met and perhaps even exceeded our expectations.
Day 2:
  • Unison Vineyard (first place I've been where we had to walk down a really steep drive literally in to the Cellar of the building! So lovely and cool. Terry was fantastic, so knowledgable and so willing to share her knowledge and passion for wine - Thanks! We learnt a lot about the various soils in the area from Terry. Hopefully we'll see her again at wine club),
  • Te Awa (young presenter, knowledgable, but felt like he was reciting a script all the time, and being a casually dressed kiwi and being referred to as 'Sir' always feels a little odd. This isn't a complaint! Just a good memory trigger!!!),
  • Trinity Hill (Sarah is seriously high on something! Maybe the vegetarian diet! Nice to have a presenter with so much energy and enthusiasm! Soooo many wines on offer, this was a distinct challenge to keep this list manageable!),
  • Alpha Domus (bumped into Tim again here. Would love to know the story behind the old aeroplane logo. Met Paul Ham here while discussing their Sticky (the white sticky, not the red), not sure if Paul is the owner or the winemaker or both - hopefully we'll get him up to wine club),
  • Sileni - where we lunched (a little disappointed by the service and undercooked bread, loved the setting though.) And then the
  • Silk Oak Chocolate shop on the way back to Napier.
Day 3:
  • Misson (somewhat dismissive as usual, but still love many of their wines - we just learn to lower our 'experience' expectations here - the setting makes up for it!),
  • Church Road (like the Mission, quite commercial, but had a lovely presenter here - he reminded me enormously of Philip Sherry.),
  • Moana Park (wonderful, boutique winery experience - Dan presented 10 wines - 4 white, 4 red, an ice wine (yum!) and a 10 year tawny - another person we hope to see at wine club), then to
  • The Filter Room for Simon to do a beer & cider tasting and to have a beautiful antipasto platter for lunch.
We still have lunch at Black Barn, Dinner at The Historic Church and many more vineyards to visit. :)

More photos up on my flickr pages - Napier set.

Ooh - and something really unusual, every evening we enjoy listening to the sea lions barking across the road! We're almost directly across the road from Marine world. Love it!

And a shout out to Cafe Ujazi - great food, fantastic friendly service. We also breakfasted at Cafe Divine which had been recommended to us, but their lack of warmth and friendliness sent us straight back to ujazi. Good food, but it's a whole experience, so we'll stick with Ujazi.


  1. Interesting observations of all the cellar doors in the Bay they sound so similar to some of the experiences we've had at the same places.

    What was your favourite wine ?

  2. Hey Mark - so many wonderful wines to pick from! Personally I've been skipping most of the reds as I'm the responsible driver on this journey. The most memorable wine for me was today at Moana Park - the Muscat Ice Wine. This was immediately something different - right from the blushing apricot hue, to the silky smooth decadence on the palate, and the unexpected lack of syrupy, cloying notes - for a wine with as much residual sugar as it has (230 I think Dan said) it is suprisingly gentle on the palate, rather than bracingly sweet as you might expect.

  3. As Jane said there were many wonderful wines. My personal top vineyards so far:
    - Te Mata Estate
    - Craggy Range
    - Clearview
    - Moana Park
    - Unison
    - Trinity Hill
    - Te Awa
    - Alpha Domus
    - Moana Park

    Of these the cellar door experience at Unison and Moana Park was particularly great.

    In terms of a sampling of wines I enjoyed from some of the vineyards:
    - Te Mata Coleraine
    - Alpha Domus Viognier
    - Clearview Reserve Chardonnay
    - Trinity Hill Arneis

    I have also found that the Gewurtztraminer's from the region have (to date) not been too Turkish Delight flavoured or tasting like 100% lolly water (which I do not enjoy) and have in fact been lovely.

    The Rose's have also been surprisingly good and have had a level of complexity to them.