Friday, May 6, 2016

On to Wine Country (continuing travels in the South Island)

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Miles (or should I say kilometers) of grapes. The Marlborough portion of the South Island is New Zealand’s premier wine country, aka Napa Valley South. The vineyards are mostly within biking distance of each other, all with nice tasting rooms, some with small high-end restaurants and all with bottles of wine distinguished by artistic bottle labels.

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Located in the balmy northern end of the island overlooking the Cook Straight.

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New Zealand actually used to have a tobacco crop. The government encouraged the farms to switch to something more profitable, Chinese Gooseberry. Renamed ‘kiwi fruit’ in a brilliant marketing campaign and turned into a significant export.

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Back to wine country. Not only do you get to try some really good wines, but the winemakers usually offer a pretty good education as part of the tasing process.

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Trying to decide exactly when we should start harvesting.

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Some of the vineyards take grape growing to the extremes. At the Yealands vineyard they play music to the vines on large speakers over hundreds of acres to improve the yield and quality of the grapes. They also use compression canons to make enough noise to scare some of the hungry birds off.

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Bug patrol animals are also kept on duty 24/7.

 

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But it wasn’t all about wine tasting. We also had to hunt down the local yarn store, looking for a nice blend of possum fur and wool yarn. Here’s Ken wondering how the local fire marshal could let this store even stay open. It is piled high with every type of yarn. The little lady who runs it seems to know exactly what pile to look under when you ask for something particular.

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We spent a few hours at the Omaka Aviation HeritageCenter. The film director Peter Jackson is the main driver behind the museum (best known for directing Lord of the rings and the Hobbit films). The displays are focused on World War I and very well done. This Curtis Flying Boat is in beautiful shape and looks ready to take to the 1920’s air.

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This DC-3 is not really part of the museum, it is parked outside on the airfield. These are my favorite planes. When I ran BlueWater Systems I always wanted to buy one as our corporate air force.

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While in wine country, we stayed at the Clovelly Homestay B&B. We enjoyed great breakfasts and these two watch Scotties, mother and daughter Gabby and Maggie, who were always on duty. Nostalgically reminded me of the Scotty we had while I was growing up – Robbie.

Paul

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