This is our view yesterday morning of the Marlborough Valley from our hike up the Wither Hills Farm Park trek. It was a pretty steep hike with lots of trails we didn't follow, but a good 1 hour workout. There are hundreds of acres of vineyards in the valley and adjacent ones. Hopefully, the big wineries won't take over the boutique wineries in the valley. There seems to be some cause for concern.
We went to the Sunday morning farmer's market in Blenheim which featured local farmers and local residents being themselves. There were fresh cheeses, produce, crepe stands, expresso sellers, locally raised nuts and milled olive oils. What fun! We bought a baguette, a soft cheese, the reddest plums I've ever seen, candied almonds, and Manuka honey - all locally grown or produced. After our trek up the hills, we visited Matua winery and bought an exceptional bottle of sauvignon blanc which we enjoyed with our fresh picnic lunch. We also stopped at Villa Maria winery for a tasting. Back to our nice apartment for a short nap, then back to work, visiting Montana (Brancott) and Dryland wineries. Montana doesn't use this in their name on the US imports because of the confusion with our state. Also, it being a huge winery, they also bottle under the Stoneleigh name, which accounts for all the acres of vineyards we've seen in Marlborough carrying that name. Dryland is also the producer of Nobilo and Monkey Bay - two of our favorite wine labels, so there is another "mystery" solved. The Matua sauvignon blanc was labeled Paretai Sauvignon Blanc and is only available from restaurants and some wine stores in the US. It is wonderful.
We ate dinner at the restaurant at Vintner's Retreat. Bill had the rack of lamb, and I had the Marlborough salmon which had a salsa of red peppers, green onions and pomegranate seeds! Both were delicious.
Her's some pinot gris grapes, sidewise. There is netting used throughout the region to prevent the birds from eating all the grapes. We are now at Ruby Bay Lodge in their guest house, which is a private cottage just for guest use and includeds every amenity. Check out their web site: http://www.rubybaylodge.co.nz/ We have met the Scottish owners, tasted their wines, and are enjoying the lovely platter of cheeses and meats on our porch while admiring the view of their vineyards and the Tasman Bay. What a luxurious place to spend four days. There are bay-side cafes and restaurants within a 5 minute drive. Tomorrow morning we sea kayak, walk, and cruise the Abel Tasman park.