Well I went on a wine tour today and that was a lot of fun. We went to 5 different wineries in the Hawkes Bay area. The region has some of the countries best wines and is dealing with the economic downturn much better then Marlbourgh. They are actually cutting back and focusing on quality rather than quantity. We started out at Mission vineyard, the oldest in New Zealand and it used to be a Catholic seminary where the priests and training priests made wine for themselves. The building was very nice but used to be on a flood plane so they used hand saws to cut it in 11 pieces and move it with a steam engine up the hill then put it back together. They then built a new chapel on the end, made of brick, which was destroyed in the 1931 earthquake and replaced with a wooden one. The large area of land in front of the vinyard, and for a good few miles, used to be under water till the quake, and was pushed up 7 feet and is used as farm land now. They have a big concert every year there and had a collection of special wine labels they had designed for the artists such as Shirley Bassey and Rod Stewart. Then in 2005 They had Eric Clapton and gave him a bottle. He's a recovering alcoholic so he threw it against the wall and almost didn't play, so they've stopped doing labels now. There wines were OK, nothing particularly memorable.
Then we drove out to Moana Park, my favorite for the day. The man there was extremely knowledgeable about wine and very passionate to. All there wine is low allergen and vegetarian society approved with a few additives and no added sugar. We were there for ages talking and sampling the wines. We learnt that NZ produces 0.21% of the worlds wine. Of that wine Moana Park produces 0.06% and yet they won 5% of the awards at an international wine show. We tried a Viogner (V-on-yay) which I had only tried once before and it was amazing, my favorite of the day. However I would say my favorite drink was the Tawny, a Port with a lovely gold colour that tasted like Christmas. Its very dangerous stuff as you can keep drinking it, its soooooo good! My dad's credit car IS going to go missing for a bit so I can order a case of those two wines.
After that we were all a bit merry and we moved onto Church Road vineyard for lunch. I can't remeber any of those wines, but we had very good lunch there. Then it was off to another one where they made the wine with local food producers so a certain wine went with a certain food. There wine was horrible but we did see lots of diesel powered windmills which are switched on at night to prevent frost. They also used helicoptors to fly around and keep the air moving as frost can kill a crop overnight. Then we drove up a big hill and looked at am amazing view of the east coast and back through Havelock North, the richest village in New Zealand. We drove past lots of apple orchards as well which looked a little creepy. Apple trees in the winter look a bit haloweenish or like if Tim Burton were to draw a tree that's what it would look like. Finally we went to Black Barn who have one of the best chef's in New Zealand working there. There wine was ok as well, but not as good as the decor in the dining room (i'll put pictures on facebook) or the view from the window.
All in all a very fun day, nice people and good wine. We ARE without a doubt getting a case or two from Moana Park, it was fantastic!!