I’d like to say that my love of wine comes from being a mature adult who can now appreciate the finer things in life, but unfortunately I’ve been a bit of a lush from a young age. My parents were very European in their attitude to teaching us about drinking, and so we were always permitted a tiny port glass of wine with our dinners.
Not only did this mean I’ve always had a very healthy relationship with alcohol, it also meant that I could identify a fine wine from 100 paces while the rest of my peers were necking blossom hill rose with a straw.
So while visiting the famous vineyards of New Zealand was high on my list of must dos, a wine tasting trip in winter? Not so much. I had visions of pedalling around on a vintage bike in dappled sunlight then quenching my thirst with a nice crisp white. Of course in reality I’d be falling over a lot because there’s no way I’m spitting perfectly good vino out into a bucket.
However after a very exciting morning which had already involved flying in a helicopter and getting lost inside a maze my toddler like enthusiasm for even more adventures was ruling our plans for the rest of the day. Spying a hand written sign advertising wine tasting I ordered Mikey to turn our jucy van into the curious looking driveway beside it.
After a few minutes of bouncing along a road that probably negated our insurance we arrived at the Swallows Crossing Vineyard lodge, a very rustic looking place that I fell in love with immediately.
Undeterred by the fact that no one was around (and Mikey’s insistence that we were about to be murdered) I found a phone number which I dialled, only to find a very surprised voice on the other end.
“Oh!” I noted the surprise – clearly most people don’t pop in when there’s snow on the ground, “Sure, we can do a tasting… I’ll be over in five.”
A friendly dog arrived before the farm’s owner Dan, who led us inside before displaying his wares – a whole array of delicious looking wines and an excellent amount of knowledge about them too. Err… I guess you’d expect that I know, but I’m not used to gruff Kiwi’s that can talk about the difference between a sauv or a chardonnay let alone correct me on my description of the taste.
I complimented a lovely pinot noir as being ‘light’ only to be told that in no uncertain terms by Dan that the term I was looking for was ‘delicate’. Light, our host correctly said, implied a lack of taste. And the wine I was drinking had taste, and lots of it!
My camera was also eyed warily, and my requests to snap a photo of the wine being poured were questioned with an air of skepticism. Along with my explanation that it was all for the blog.
“Oh, so you’re one of those people that pull over with no warning just to get a photo then. You should get a bumper sticker, Beware: Blogger on Board.”
Mikey, knowing it to be entirely accurate, found this hilarious. The boys continued to gang up on me as I continued to drink my wine and pet the resident cat. Wine and a fluffy kitty? Best day ever!
Of course we couldn’t walk away empty handed and so purchased a couple of bottles of my favourite (the most expensive, because obviously) but otherwise a tasting would have been $5 a person. If you’re passing through Otago then I can’t recommend a visit to Swallows Crossing enough. Just don’t tell Dan the wine is light…