So if you recall, we were staying at a B&B for the first time. Our hosts were super adorable and we ended up having an incredibly lovely stay. The wife made her own meusli and all her own jams out of fruits they grew in their garden and the husband ran a bike rental business from their garage. As guests at the B&B, we had full access to jams, muesli and bikes!
The B&B itself was very comfortable and the garden was GORGEOUS. I know for a FACT that my parents would love to sit in that garden and take notes for their own garden so should I ever get Joe and Judy on a plane to New Zealand, I will insist that they stay at the Olde Millhouse.This was the view outside our room:
The other four guests at breakfast that first morning were perfectly lovely (which is worth mentioning because the next morning's guests were not lovely) and we enjoyed our muesli and coffee and solicited the advice of the other guests and the hosts while planning our wine tasting agenda. We were advised to start with the longest ride out to the chocolate factory and then work our way back into town, which is exactly what we did.
Robert outfitted us with bikes and helmets and a map and off we went! (Sorry for the eyes-closed picture Carrie, but this was cute otherwise and it's the only one he took!)
The ride to the chocolate factory was 12k away (or 12 "units," which I translated to be a 10k race + a little bit, so seven or eight miles) and it was a pretty beautiful, warm day so I was tempted to take a wine tasting break on the way to the chocolate but Carrie correctly insisted that we stick to the plan because otherwise we'd never make it out to the chocolate.
We really could not have picked a finer day:
No photos of the chocolate, but my family members were the recipients of what is apparently pretty famous macadamia nut and chocolate covered toffee. My work friends were going to get some too, but OOPSIE, we ate theirs.
Once the chocolate tasting was over, it was time to move on to more serious matters: TASTING THE WINE.
For reals, doing the long bike ride out without stopping was SO SMART because, as you can imagine, bike riding (ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD) got more and more challenging as the day went on -- particularly when weighed down with wine purchases!
Bike helmets look just as stupid in NZ as they do in CA, btw, but this was definitely a safety first (maybe third or fourth) kind of adventure:
Wine tasting in NZ is not unlike wine tasting in CA: Some small, adorable wineries with varying levels of decor, some big wineries with lots of people in them, but regardless, 100% enjoyable. They also follow the "hit it off with the tasting room people and you'll taste way more than what's on the menu" philosophy that I enjoy so much about the sport of wine tasting.
The lady working at Huia was one of our favorites and it's a shame you can only take three bottles back into the US with you because that limited our purchases. This other label they produce there wasn't our most favorite, but I loved the name -- it reminded me of my dad, who I'm pretty sure is the only one I know who uses the term "hunky dory." (Sometimes he gets fancy and says "hunkus dorus.")
The Huia grounds were gorgeous though and we made good use of them:
We love you, Huia!
I don't know where this was, but you can tell we were feeling enthusiastic about our day:
This is a bad picture but trust me when I tell you that one of the wines available at this other winery was RODNEY STRONG:
I mean, okay, fine, BUT THIS WAS NOT CALIFORNIA. Why bother with Rodney when you have so much delicious NZ wine that needs drinking?!!? (Except to tell you the truth, that particular winery was not our most favorite, so maybe they neeeed to import??) It had been recommended to us as a good place to have lunch though so we bought a bottle of what we liked the most and then drank it with this sweet, sweet bonanza:
Wineries in CA really need to get on board the platter train. It's so much more than a cheese plate. Pate and chutney and meats and cheeses and shellfish and pickles and smoked trout and whatever is awesome that particular day. SO GOOD.
(And for those of you who know Carrie, don't worry -- she ate the meat, I ate the fish.)
We both gobbled up this bad boy though:
We don't know what that butter looking stuff was or what we were actually supposed to do with it, but we slathered it on each bite and THAT WAS THE CORRECT THING TO DO. Cholesterol and fat, be damned!
That last stretch of bike riding back to the B&B was THANKFULLY shorter than expected because maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, my butt was sore from the day-o-biking and maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, I was ready to relax after a hard day of relaxing. ;-)
We wrapped up our evening by going into town for dinner, but we were WIPED and were probably in bed by 10PM that night.
Two other things I'll add:
1. This was Feb 15th in our time traveler lives, but it was Valentine's Day for everyone back home, which I thought was super quaint. "Oh look how adorable the old-timey people are with their Valentine's Day posts on Facebook. We are so advanced!"
2. Sunburn! I slathered up regularly, but I missed some parts. The stripe on my right arm has only just now faded.
And for those of you who know about my star sticker system for tracking my workouts, I TOTALLY came home and gave myself a sticker for this day because we rode like 15+ miles. DEFINITELY COUNTS.
Also: Someone needs to come over and drink New Zealand sparkling wines with me because those are the two bottles I bought to bring home with me. There was a third, but I had to abandon it at the airport because of my suitcase's weight problem. Boo.
Have I convinced you guys to drop everything and go to New Zealand yet? No? Okay, I'll keep trying. Several more days of recaps to come!