26.4.2017 Blenheim to Wellington

We are on our way home from the furthest point in our journey, it has taken us 232 days to get here and it should take 8 days to get back 😨.

Our fanciest air bnb yet, the kitchen view with wisteria covered terrace

We had a great start to the day (if you avoid the struggling to get all our crap into teeny rucksacks) and went to Ritual for salmon and eggs for Guy and a small savoury muffin for little ol’ me. The music being played was excellent, Tame Impala, Alt-J, Foals, Maccabees all courtesy of a bloke from Sunderland.

The bus took us from Blenheim to Picton in about 25mins. Easy. 

We had 2 hours before the ferry so as soon as we saw a Whitehaven vineyard umbrella we were sat there with a bottle of savvy wondering just how the hell are we going to adjust to life in the UK? Apparently it hasn’t changed so much that this is acceptable behaviour at lunchtime, every lunchtime.

View from cafe

We boarded the ferry and got settled, in the bar, where we spent sometime chatting to a guy with a Mancunian accent who has lived here​ since 1964. He had some tales to tell. 

View from ferry
Selfies – Roberts style

Arrival in Wellington was prompt and soon we were in a scabby backpackers thanking our lucky stars it was only one night. It felt grimy, dirty and the bathroom was so rank we didn’t shower. We feel like travellers again. 

Waterloo Backpackers, Wellington

Scrubbed up, via the sink, we went to our favourite wine bar and tried a mystery tasting. The deal is to try and identify the grape, region and vintage of each of the 3 wines, we were hoping we could get maybe just one grape right!! 

All that wine drinking has paid off….my parents will be so proud!

After much deliberation and pontification we decided on our grapes. We got 2 out of 3 right, the French chenin blanc evaded our tastebuds and I even got the producer right for the chardy (Chardonnay). Feeling pretty chuffed we celebrated with another glass of red then headed off for burnt dumplings at Dumpling’d in town. 

Steamed dumplings
Burnt dumpings

We had bought a bottle of Yealands savvy thinking it was BYO at the dumpling house. It wasn’t. The posh Yealands wine was drunk, back in our scabby hostel room, out of paper cups. I am not sure the winemaker had this scenario in mind when he was perfecting his craft on this lush wine.

Posh savvy and cheap cups

23.4.3017 Marlborough vineyards Day 3

Wow! Day 3….. And we are loving this.

A 45 min cycle from Blenheim and we were at Whitehaven vineyard chatting to Katrina in the cellar door who was massively knowledgable about wines, the family who started the vineyard and growing and fermenting grapes. We learnt a lot from her, like they prefer to take 40% of their leaf growth off the vines to open them up to the sunshine and ensure ripe grapes for a full flavoured wine. Although Team Roberts had an agreement not to buy any more bottles of wine today, as we are creating our own backpacker nightmare of transporting too many bottles of wine around, we did succumb and buy a Pinot Rose as it was stunning, the best rose ever. Geek fact – it had 2.5 hrs contact with the skins when crushing. 

We walked through the NZ gourmet food section of the shop next door and managed not to buy any gin, vodka or whisky which was also available.

Coffee fuelled wine crawl

Onto Wairau River vineyard next, a very photographic one

The wines were very good, all had deliciously classic flavours and if we saw them in the UK I would definitely buy one. 

Round the corner to Framingham Wines which had the most gorgeous setting, a garden full of sweet roses, purple salvias and music lyrics from Elbow, Bowie, Muse, The Jam, Iggy Pop and more spray painted into the pavement. 

It took us 10 mins just to get to the cellar door as it was so engaging. We ended up tasting 10, yep that reads ten, wines here along with another couple from Nottingham. This vineyard is a Reisling specialist so we had a lot of Reisling. All very different. We bought a fridge magnet, much lighter than a bottle.

Over the road is Forrest vineyard, great name eh, reminicent of the (once mighty) NFFC? We rolled in and were given a menu and asked to choose what we wanted to taste from a great tasting selection and we also ordered a cheese and pate platter. We sat in the warm sunday autumnal sunshine and had a beautiful time. This was real pinch me moment when we realise how ace our lives are. 

Life goes on, and so soon enough we are off to our final vineyard for today, Gibson Bridge who had been recommended from our Air BnB hosts, and it didn’t disappoint. A real vineyard run by an enthusiastic couple, Julie was on cellar door duties and was chatty, knowledgable and so enthusiastic but also pretty realistic about how difficult it is to start a vineyard with her husband, Howard, as that is exactly what they have done. It is the Kiwi way, hard slog and labour and you will get a quality product. And theirs was a really good product, they only have 2 hectares of vines, mostly Pinot Gris with some gewurtstraminer Howard got a few years ago. We bought a dessert wine, yes, a sweet, sticky dessert wine which was dark and delicious. The other 2 ladies in our tasting group both bought dessert wines for $120 a (small) bottle!!

So a quick, wind assisted 35 min cycle and we were back at home, picking up cheese and pate platters from the local supermarket and back to watch MKR for our evenings entertainment. Addictive crap TV.

We also tasted a Villa Maria Arneis white wine, never heard of it before. Light, with honey afters. 

Todays scores on the doors 44 (plus 1) wines tasted from 5 vineyards. 20 miles cycled according to Google.

Tonight was very special as we saw the Milky Way. A glittering belt of white specks across the night sky. Truely awesome to see our neighbours in our galaxy.