Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Day 3: To Hawke's Bay
So you fly. It’s cheap and works well, usually. So we get the 7.10 from Blenheim/Marlborough to Wellington. (15 mins). Have a coffee then get the 8.15 to Napier/Hawkes Bay.
Hire car drive 5 mins to Mission Estate.
This impressive, white clapboard Victorian 'Château' was the first winery in NZ. Now it’s the most famous … or at least the most visited. Its was a monastery, but the monks moved to Auckland where they do many good works with the poor and this place is run as a charitable business to raise money to pay for those good works. And it’s doing very well. We are big customers.
We asked Peter and Martin to put on a bit of a show for Jim to photograph (not that you need much more show, given they have this iconic great building). But … they rolled out a vintage Packard and a stunning white open Auburn tourer - very rare indeed.
Napier town is all very Art Deco because it got flattened by an earthquake in the 30's and rebuilt in the style. And it seems a few guys here have been collecting cars to match. They also found a penny farthing which Dan rode. This time I did bottle out.
That all done, we toured the ultra-modern and ultra planet-friendly cellars before lunch back at the Mission, in what is apparently the best restaurant in town. I know this because whilst all the car and bike stuff was going on, a girl with luscious, long dark hair came up and slipped her arm in mine for a kiss! Claire was with us for over 20 years and my PA for 10! Until she and Brian decided to go bring up their kids here. She left me! Lovely to see her again. Never quite got the hang of respect for her boss, did Claire....I was often referred to as 'The Lucky Bastard'.
Great to catch up.
We got to try Mission's 'Gemstone' from that increasingly famous patch of stones; the Gimlett Gravels. We listed this at £20+ in October. It sold out in minutes.
We moved on to our other long-time supplier here; Esk Valley. With its unique-in-NZ, steep, terraced vines and rambling, eccentric, rough, old sheds its a bit different. But I love it. Winemaker and manager Gordon Russell is a great and impassioned talker. We go up the hills, along the terraces, through the winery, then down the trapdoor into the cellars. As you do. No money has been wasted here. It’s a patched and mended place. They talk of a new state of the art gravity fed winery. But I'll be sad if they lose the old place. We get given a bottle of The Terraces 2002. Worth the trip just for that.
Dinner with Claire, Brian and the children at Crab Farm; not, as I thought a seafood place but a vineyard planted on land which rose miraculously from the seabed during the great earthquake … all covered in crabs.
Early bed; it’s a 5am tomorrow.
Posted by Tony Laithwaite at 8:37:00 am