|Kate had to go back to work today but Ann, Paul and I decided to drive north to Waipara to investigate some of the wineries there. They had already visited some wineries further north (such as Church Road) but these were the first Canterbury wines.
First stop was Waipara Springs winery, quite a small operation north-east of the village. They had a small tasting area and a terrace to eat lunch on and we duly partook of both. The wines were quite good, the best of which was their 2002 Reisling.
We chatted briefly with one of the owners, asking her whether it was an idyllic life owning a winery. She responded by telling us how she was up all last night putting oil burners among the vines to try to prevent the sharp overnight frost from ruining her crop. They even had to employ a helicopter to hover over the vines to keep the air circulating. Perhaps not so idyllic.
After a tasty lunch, we moved on to the much larger Canterbury House winery with its impressive new buildings just south of the village. The wines were quite good, again with the Reislings coming out as favourites. I bought a bottle of the 2002 Reisling as well as a bottle of their Methode Traditionelle Brut to give to Kate as she has become something of a fizzy wine drinker since we came to NZ.
Last stop was Pegasus Bay, a slightly smaller operation but more exclusive. The winery has a lovely looking restaurant and reception area, overlooking landscaped gardens. We had a good look around the place, including access to the wine stores. The whole place was very well done and the price of the wines reflected that. Paul and Ann quite liked the Chardonnay I think, but my favourite was the Pinot Noir. Very fruity, smooth with good legs - and that was just the barmaid that served me (ho ho). I liked it so much that I bought a glass to drink in the garden while the others had coffee.
On the way back to Christchurch we stopped off at Leithfield Beach, with views over the real Pegasus Bay. The beach was completely deserted and it was strange looking out to sea thinking that the next place due east would be South America.
Once back in Christchurch we picked Kate up once she got back from work. It looked like it would be a very fine evening so we decided to take a drive along the Summit Road on the Port Hill, taking advantage of the longer evening light (the clocks went forward yesterday).
It was quite a steep climb through the richer suburbs of Cashmere, but soon we were on the ridge with fantastic views over the Canterbury Plains to the Alps, and over the other side down into Lyttelton Harbour. It was a little hazy but the light was superb and we had timed it perfectly to watch the sun go down, behind the hills.
We drove back through Mt Pleasant and back into town, heading straight for Winnie Bagoes once more for a farewell dinner before Ann and Paul flew home (via Singapore) tomorrow. It had been great to have them here for the week.