It seems only natural when we go only holiday, that I hunt out the closest wineries. Mr. Spittoon’s family actually live in Hamilton, which falls into the Waikato-Bay of Plenty wine region in New Zealand. Of the 10 or so wineries in the region, Vilagrad Wines is one and it’s only about a 15 minute drive from the Hamilton CBD in Ohaupo. Continue reading
With Sauvignon Blanc Day just around the corner, I thought it would be a great idea for the blog to get a little Savvy! Therefore I have invited along the lovely Lisa from The Sisters Wine in New Zealand to share with us some info on what makes NZ Sauv Blanc so great! Enjoy guys! Continue reading
As some of you may know, I love to invite guest bloggers to share their wine experiences and knowledge on the blog. This week we have a very special guest poster – my Dad!! Naturally he is a big wino (I wonder where I got it from!) and he was recently invited along to Omata Estate in Russell, which is in the far north of New Zealand. Check out what he got up to…
Some of you may not know that I’m a Kiwi – and one with itchy travelling feet apparently! When growing up, I spent most of my younger years in the Northland region of New Zealand. Northland is at the very top of the North Island of New Zealand and as they say is ‘subtropical’. Nowhere is the sea more than 50kms away. Northland is also where a lot of the country’s wine growing history can be traced back to with the first vines being planted in 1819 in the Bay of Islands. Continue reading
Who knew a winery could be so close to an airport? A mere 5 minutes drive from Auckland Airport will find yourself at one of New Zealand’s most awarded winery’s – Villa Maria Estate.
About Villa Maria
Villa Maria began over 50 years ago and exports to 50 countries around the globe. They have vineyards in Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and Gisborne. The Auckland cellar door and cafe is the perfect spot for a wine tasting or lunch, particularly if you’re on a stopover or simply can’t wait to get stuck into a glass of New Zealand wine after your long flight.
As soon as you drive up the long driveway past all the grape vines you’ll feel immersed in the Kiwi wine culture. You can spot pukekos and paradise ducks amongst the vines before you get to the laid back cellar door. It is a pretty spot and neither my Mum nor I once heard the sound of an aeroplane! We could have been smack bam in wine country for all we knew. Or perhaps the wine and pretty surrounds had impaired our hearing!
The cellar door
A tasting at the cellar door is $5 per person and you can try 6 wines (the tasting fee is refundable on purchase). The tasting is rather orchestrated, it’s only because my Mum mentioned their new release slightly sparkling rosé that we got to try that. It was a bit of a pity we couldn’t choose what to try as there are some interesting wines on their list which I would have liked to give a go.
Their wine list is huge, so understandably they wouldn’t have everything open however I probably would have purchased more if I could have tasted styles that I prefer.
We did, however, try some lovely wines, my Mum loved the slightly sparkling dry rosé and one of the 3 wines made from the Italian grape Arenis we both enjoyed.
Lunch at Villa Maria’s restaurant
After our tasting, we had lunch at the Villa Maria Cafe (it was an early Mother’s Day lunch tied in with picking my Dad up from the airport – 2 birds with one stone as they say!). Despite it being a ‘cafe’ the menu is more on the fine dining side of the table. Bookings are essential for the weekend, however, we turned up on a Tuesday around midday with no booking and we got a fantastic table overlooking the vineyard.
The menu is absolutely scrumptious, both my Mum and I had a terrible time trying to decide what to go for. It all sounded so good! The starters weren’t really sharing type of dishes so we opted for one of the side dishes, the warm Turkish bread with extra virgin olive oil & dukkah for $7 which was perfect and a bargain when the other starters were around the $20 mark anyway.
Mum went for the smoked lamb loin with crushed baby peas, caramelized pearl onions & galette potatoes for $35. She loved it. However, it would have been nice if on the menu they suggested a white wine as well as the red wine suggestion for a wine pairing as my Mum only drinks white and she wasn’t sure what would be good to match. In the end, she went for the slightly sparkling rosé since she enjoyed that so much in the tasting.
For some reason I don’t normally order chicken when eating out as it just seems so easy to make at home, however, I couldn’t look past the Waitoa free range chicken breast prosciutto wrapped on crisp potato & thyme pavé with sweet corn chilli salsa & jus roti for $32. Beautifully presented and it tasted divine. For a chicken dish, I found it very rich, the jus was quite intense especially married up with the prosciutto. It went well with the 2011 Hawkes Bay Chardy.
To finish the meal I had a lovely glass of the late harvest Riesling and we shared the Kohu Road ice creams & sorbets with fresh raspberries for $10.50. The berries weren’t to flash, I say berries as I’m sure they weren’t raspberries, more like defrosted berries however the ice-cream and sorbet were delicious. We both enjoyed it very much!
To sum up
All up the food was fantastic, the service was a bit slow at times despite the restaurant being very quiet however we had a great time and I would definitely recommend it to anyone travelling past Auckland airport. If it wasn’t for my flight back to Perth being at 6 in the morning, then I would have definitely stopped in again.