All too soon, it was time to leave Hopewell and move on to the next spot, which for me was a woofing position in Nelson. My buddy, Nick, had kindly offered to give me lift between Hopewell and Nelson and we decided that we would take in some Marlborough sights along the way. Marlborough, if you weren’t sure, is one of the world’s most famous wine regions and let me just say, I am a BIG fan of their exports. So, when Nick said “do you want to go wine tasting?” I very quickly confirmed that, yes, yes I did.
First stop was the Nautilus winery, where I made a B-line for the Sauvignon Blanc, obviously. It was delicious and it was free, what more could you want? I’ve never been to a wine tasting before, but I’m vaguely aware of the etiquette. I know you’re supposed to slurp the stuff like an idiot and swirl it around yer’ mouth, whilst commenting on the crisp aroma… aaaand, that is not the kind of person I am- I’m plainly too awkward for the theatricality of a wine tasting. That and I flat-out refuse to spit out the wine, so the day was pretty merry after three winery stops.
Next on the list was the Brancott Estate winery, which I was very much looking forward to as I drink a bit of their wine back home. Of all the wineries we visited, the Brancott Estate was without question, the most impressive. Their estate was a great sprawling landscape of grapevines, best viewed from their hilltop restaurant, The Heritage Centre, complete with a great floor-to-ceiling glass facade and a view, in the far distance, of the North island.
The view really was stunning and with the weather developing into a surprisingly beautiful day, we decided it was probably about time for another wine-tasting. We made our way into the Heritage Centre and pitched up against the bar, ready to sample the delicious gold.
After the wine tasting where, by the way, we sampled the most delicious dessert wine I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting, we slowly meandered down the hillside, basking in the rays of the surprisingly sunny day it had turned out to be. Back down at ground level, we had a wander through some of the grapevines, which would soon become the scene of my most shocking crime yet; we STOLE a handful of grapes and made a swift getaway in the car, leaving a dust cloud behind us as we wheel-spun outta’ there.
If any New Zealand law enforcement officials are reading this, please see the above image as proof that actually it was Nick that physically stole the grapes. Please don’t deport me. As we drove around, eating our delicious stolen grapes, we stumbled upon another winery that sadly was closed but we just had to stop for a picture.
Q: Hey Laura, who’s your favourite French star of the eighties?
After another drive, this time sound-tracked by terrible French accents and George Michael jokes, we settled upon our final wine tasting session of the day, at the Wairau River winery. The wine was very nice but the memory I will definitely take away from my visit was the Vineyard Dogs book they had for sale there, which was basically a big lovely book filled with pictures of dogs who live and work on vineyards. I gave that book a lot of attention and now that I’ve started thinking about it again, I totally regret not buying it.
On our way towards the city, we stopped off at a point on the Pelorus river, which fans of The Hobbit will recognise as the location for the famous barrel river scene. It was a really beautiful spot, although my photos do it no justice at all (so I’m not even going to include them). Blame the wine. Whilst I wandered about, in awe of where I was, Nick decided to take the quickest dip I’ve ever witnessed. And then we were back on the road to Nelson, where I’m happy to report that Nick and I spent the next two evenings happily sipping at our Marlborough wine haul.
There’s wine in that mug.