The Hawkes bay region is a brilliant place if you're looking to induce a migraine, as we endeavored to prove with the plan for the following day. We took some time to do some writing, then rewarded ourselves by paying visits to the local cheese and chocolate factories, and topped it all off with a couple of wine tastings. Sweet dreams!
Our first visit of the day was to Hohepa Cheesery (totally a word) to get some Danbo cheese. It's a creamy, edam-esque cheese in it's traditional form but we stayed true to ourselves and bought a version with chilli in it. We then headed to the Silky Oak chocolate factory and inexplicably couldn't find any chocolate for sale whatsoever. We did manage to find the cafe so stopped to refuel- Jane went for a pumpkin muffin which she loved. I opted for a chicken, brie and cranberry croissant because I am some kind of pervert. Kiwi cafe food is like French food if all the chefs were pissed. After lunch, we found some actual chocolate tucked away around the side of the factory!
We chose a handful each then rushed off to the nearest winery to do some tastings.
New Zealanders like their beauty sleep and the whole place seems to be in bed by 5pm. As a result, your standard wine tasting runs from 10am until 4pm. Naturally, we weren't keen to taste wine at breakfast time so we left our two visits until the very end. We went to Moana Valley wines first. The winery is probably the most hipster of the lot and everything is 100% eco-friendly, non-allergenic and vegan. The master wine maker is strictly against traditional methods and wouldn't even guarantee that they would produce the same wine twice, as "the grapes decide". In true East-London style, we enjoyed a very carefully measured selection, drinking from some 100ml conical flasks.
Our second tasting was at The Mission where we took pleasure in the polar-opposite experience of free-poured swigs from seven different bouquets. The Mission has famously hosted a summer gig for the past twenty years, pulling big names such as Simply Red, Julio (and Enrique) Iglesias, Lionel Ritchie, Rod Stewart and of course, Englebert Humperdinck, which is literally a big name. We emerged from the experience with a 2017 Moana Valley Chardonnay (it's good here, honest), a plastic bottle of "summer gig leftover Merlot" and two (free) embossed glasses from The Mission. Deep down we know that we're not classy enough for wine tastings, but at least now we can drink our plastic-bottle wine from glasses rather than mugs. What a day!
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