Friday, 5 February 2010

Worried Parents

Today has been a very difficult day for us as parents. You know that feeing that you are always responsible for the children you raise. Well today we started proceedings by engaging in the technological marvels of Skype, that has been keeping us in touch in a much more satisfactory way than e-mail does. In both cases, in between lots of exciting family news, Jonathan’s interesting finger and knowledge of the streaking phenomenon, Jack’s latest football exploits, the Dancing Queen’s progress and the walking smileathon that is Oliver, we were left with lingering doubts to our impact on our own two offspring. These are disturbing thoughts, had we or had we not been the influence that had them sitting on the other side of the world with their respective partners flagrantly quaffing glasses of wine while they are spending the evening looking after our grandchildren? Did we lead them astray when we subjected them to the degustation regime on French holiday?

Whilst pondering these matters of great moment we decided that the most appropriate way to give the question proper weight was to go to the source as they say and arrange for a tour of some of the wineries in this region and spend the day in contemplation. It took no time at all to make arrangements with Marlborough Wine Tours to get the process under way.

The Barrel Room at Wither Hills

We were picked up promptly and introduced to our other two tourists and asked about any preferences that we might have on the tour. Initial exchanges over we headed off to the first of our wineries. This stop off gave us the opportunity to get to know our party a little better as well as judge what the form was on these visits. The first thing that became clear was that the two guys with us had a great sense of humour and both interest in and knowledge of wine A real good quaffing at the first of our calls, Lawson’s Dry Hills, set the tone for the rest of the day.

Neil, Dene and Sheila at Lunch

On to the mighty Wither Hills where it became clear that if we were to progress at this rate there could be casualties a tactical decision was made that at the next winery it would be politic to attempt the ingestion of some solids. And so it was at Highfields we sat, after appropriate tastings, and had wonderful mixed platters of food accompanied by one of their wines.

Highfields Tower

View from the Tower

Spot who's feeling the pace

Cloudy Bay grounds

Carneys at Work

Next on the agenda was a cracking boutique winery, Seresin, whose organic pedigree and philosophy is evident in the quality of their wine. Another winery, unknown to us at home, followed, Forrest Wines.

Final call of the day was to a place that had to be on my itinerary, Cloudy Bay. Over twenty years ago I attended a blind tasting of white wines and for me the best wine on offer even against some well-known European names was indeed a Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. This was the moment that I became convinced of the quality available in the Southern Hemisphere. Once again we were not disappointed, although by this stage of proceedings not all of our party were as coherent in their tasting comments as they had been when we met earlier in the day.

Charlene, Dene, Michael and Sheila

Intellectual stimulation, grape varieties well known and newly tasted, great company, lots of tempting purchases and purchases made, logoed pens liberated when not on sale, knowledgeable staff and generous hospitality ensured that this was a day to remember if we could. What we do know is that if you want a value for money drinking exercise and want to do it with quality product you can do a lot worse than sign up with Marlborough Wine Tours. Thanks Charlene, Dene and Neil who were such great company.

How did this lot get into our luggage?

Back to where we started, where are we as parental influences, well if a glass of wine is something learned and appreciated then maybe it wasn’t all bad. If it was bad then we’re still bad and enjoying it.

This article has been brought to you by dint of liberated pen ink and befuddled thinking. The author accepts no liability for any stupidities that are contained therein. Good night one and all.


  1. I have very fond memories of that trip to france including pear brandy, kir royale and pastis so i would say it was an all round education! How old was i again? Glad to see you are having fun - but you dont have to make up for the last ten years of abstinence in one trip!!!

  2. Sarah - This could be the last time (ignoring the song quote), it's good to see that you still have clear memories of your schooling.