One of the activities here in New Zealand that Sabrina was really keen on was wine tasting. New Zealand loves their wines, and they can grow a pretty decent variety. There are a few major wine growing regions, including Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa (near Wellington), Nelson/Marlborough, Central Otago (near Queenstown), and the Waipara, near Christchurch.
I’d never been wine tasting before, so I was curious to see how this day would play out. My extent of wine knowledge is being able to identify whether it is a white or red wine…and no further. Yes, I’m slovenly and uncouth.
First stop was Pegasus Bay, one of the largest wineries. It had an impressive building and parking lot…but the wines left a bit to be desired amongst the two that knew what they were doing (Sabrina and Marc). Second stop was The Mudhouse. Of the people we talked to, this was easily the most recommended winery. It also had a wonderful and impressive set up, and they had two different wine makers under their roof. One which made the ‘Mudhouse’ label, the other created ‘Waipara Hills’. Their wine tasting list here was extensive, and also included some from the other regions they had vineyards. A very impressive set up.
The four of us set to tasting, though Marc focused mostly on reds and had his decision made pretty quickly. Alex and I simply sampled a couple different bottles of the same types, Riesling or Pinot Noir. The 3 of us got those samples for free. Sabrina though, she went all out, opting for their full tasting (at a whopping $5). She probably got to sample 25 different bottles all told from numerous different makes of wine. I enjoyed my Riesling sampling, especially the Waipara Hills Equinox 2010 Riesling. Others commented it was so sweet it tasted like juice. Probably why I liked it! Actually, everyone enjoyed that one.
Eventually it was just Sabrina and I tasting (me mostly just asking questions of the friendly tasting lady).
Sabrina ended up choosing 2 bottles here (and Marc got one), and we got to wander out into the vineyard itself. Grapes!
We went to a 3rd and final winery, a much smaller one than the Mudhouse or Pegasus Bay. Only having a few varieties, they still made very nice wines, including an oddity for the region – a Shiraz/Syrah. Not overly common in New Zealand (but abundant in Australia), the winery used a very specific plot of land to grow the Syrah grapes – a nearly 45 degree slope that faces north (to the sun).
Sabrina picked up another bottle of wine here, and 3 of us decided to share the Syrah, to be used later! All in all, a fun day spent on some wineries!