September 13, 2017
What I did not say last night is how frustrated we are with the Britz Wi-Fi that we paid for. We have limped along using the camp Wi-Fi___33 which is very spotty even when I get up at 6:00 am to attach pictures to the blog. (If I don’t do it timely, I have trouble getting the correct sequence etc.) The worst is when I load the pictures and the internet cuts out before they are transferred to the server. We had a number of emails that had to get out which made it even more frustrating. Bob finally got through to a reasonable guy at Britz who reset something and hopefully tonight we will not have a problem! He also told us to go buy a space heater as ours is broken etc. Forgot to tell him the coffee press is broken too!
Today is absolutely gorgeous and warm, 71 degrees! We cooked breakfast and ate in the kitchen (pancakes and coffee with their coffee press). I managed to get on the camp internet and painfully attach some pictures to the blog.
About 10:00 we set off on a glorious sun shining day (without jackets) for a short walk to the plaza and to two of the open wineries. Martinborough reminds us of what Sonoma was 40 years ago when we visited. Lovely little houses on quiet streets. Quaint plaza with a general store (similar to the Sign of the Bear), Pain and Kershaw (similar to the Sonoma Market), wine merchant and some eateries. We stopped into the wine merchant and learned about many of the local wines we could not taste. The licensing in NZ is driving the wineries and merchants crazy. BYOB is now very limited, small, good wineries cannot afford all that is required of them and merchants can only provide free tastings if they don’t serve etc. Interesting.
We walked to Palliser Winery (owned by Americans but Anna did not know who). Purportedly the queen has some of their wines stashed away! They make about 2% of the NZ wine so are small. The biggest producer in the area is Foley (we in Sonoma know him well!) came to NZ and bought some struggling wineries, vineyards, restaurants and distributors. Two principle vineyards are Martinborough and “TK” (Te Kairanga) then centralized bottling etc. in Christchurch. This has not helped Martinbourough’s economy! Still, many from Wellington come for weekend “get aways.” We particularly liked their chardonnay which is lightly oaked and bought the 2015.
Then walked to Schubert owned by Kai Schubert and Marion Deimling, Germans looking for a place to grow great Burgundian style pinots. Their main business is exporting their wine to about 40 countries. This must be tricky business getting merchants to provide shelf space for high end NZ wines that the public is probably not aware of. They do export their Pinot Block B and Syrah through an importer in LA. Anna Karina Benz who served us was very knowledgeable about the wines. We bought the 2015 Marion’s Vineyard Pinot and the 2013 Con Brio that is predominantly syrah, merlot and some pinot. Good tasting!
We had walked about 2 hours so stopped at Toast for a pizza snack for lunch. Back to camp, drove to pick up our wines and headed for Wellington.
The locals talk about going over the hill to Wellington. In fact, it is a white knuckler through the Tararua Range. Lots of hairpin turns and wind with the only thing missing being the rain. Only 36 km but enough fun!
We are camped at Top 10 Holiday Park which is nearly empty but a “big deal” camp with massive building for reception. We can take a bus 13 km into Wellington tomorrow for sightseeing and the ferry is 20 minutes away but with traffic we need to plan for an hour. Kitchen is not equipped like Martinborough but they do have an American style BBQ. We are having a skirt steak marinated al la Heltzer, baked potatoes and salad. 2014 Kim Crawford pinot. I am now going to have to cook fancier meals to go along with the wine we bought. No room to take anything home!
Weather is decidedly cooler and looks like rain. Doing laundry as we will be doing some dry camping when we get to Blenheim.