Yesterday we arrived in Blenheim, the first place we've been that seems to have nothing much to offer. We're in the swellest hotel in town, the d'Urville (named for the French explorer of NZ), a former bank-like building with an interesting decor and delicious salmon and lamb for our dinner. The country is flat, flat, flat, known for its wineries, so we have booked Wine Tours by Bike today.
Outfitted with bikes, helmets, maps and a quick overview of area wineries, we're on our way. The first two, Wither Hills and Highfields, are pretty big operations with
impressive tasting rooms complete with Tuscan towers that overlook the vineyards.
We tasted the wines but Ellen is not crazy about NZ pinot noirs and I'm not crazy about NZ sauvignon blancs, so we didn't buy anything. (Then why, you may ask, are we doing this? For the experience, of course.) Lunch at the second winery was quite good, on a terrace under the sun with hats available for those who needed them.
None of us has been on a bike for some time, but we did fine despite the wind. The wineries cater to cyclists, with the usual bike rack consisting of a wine barrel with a few staves taken out.
The third vineyard was our favorite, a family-owned outfit called Isabel.
I found a sauvignon blanc that I liked, so I popped it into the bike carrier and off we went. Now I must only haul it for another ten days and across the ocean...