I owe Cromwell an apology, I wasn’t expecting much.
The ride here was very enjoyable, it is only 40 minutes from Queenstown and the road is lovely and winding with river views and mountain hugging stretches that then open out into lovely golden plains.
Renowned for its succulent summer fruit industry and legendary for its production of Pinot Noir, and while i like both of those things immensely this was not a part of the trip that i had high hopes for.
So I am sorry Cromwell. I underestimated you. in a big way. I won’t do it again.
Cromwell is take-your-breath-away pretty, orchard stalls are down every laneway and cellar doors are open and plentiful.
We booked a winery tour with Funny French Cars as it meant two things a) no one had to drive and b) we were not on the motorcycle all day. I began the day unrolling my pin curls I had put in the night before, then I pinned them up into a faux bob. It made a nice change to have a hair style rather than the usual helmet hair. (So bad)
I wandered across the road to the new Cromwell town centre for a market day. The stalls sold everything you would expect: preserves, plants, art, clothing, lotions plus people were offering massage, palmistry, tarot an fortune telling, it was quite a spectacle. The biggest spectacle was possibly me in my loud fluorescent dress, my faux-bob and my full face of make up. The boring part was I couldn’t buy anything as there is no room on the bike. Boo hoo.
Julie the owner of Funny French Cars picked us up in her Citroen at 11am and from then until 2:30 ish we tripped around looking at the sights of Cromwell, meeting the local wine legends and sampling their delicious wines.
When Julie first saw me dressed in my simple (but bright) cotton shift dress she was worried that i’d be too cold as the morning was overcast and it had begun to drizzle. I laughed and said – “cold? Erm, your rain falls straight down. This feels tropical to me, I’m from Wellington.” It was my Crocodile Dundee ‘thats not a knife – this is a knife’ moment, but with bad weather. This isn’t cold, I come from Wellington. Now THAT place is cold. Needless to say, I was not cold once, the sun played peek-a-boo with us at all the right moments and the day was most pleasant.
Lunch was at Wild Earth where the food is fresh local produce and it is smoked in old wine barrels. OMG. To get there you drive out of town a few ks, park, walk across a very narrow pedestrian bridge that spans a canyon with a river at the bottom, on the other side an oasis awaits, a picturesque garden setting, simple buildings an the most amazing and expertly presented food. Pure perfection.
We had the tasting platter of food with a matching tasting platter of wine. it was the perfect way to sample how the smoking process enhances the flavours of the different food: mussels, salmon, venison, lamb and something else I have forgotten. It was a highlight for sure. Two big old golden gentle giant labradors roamed the premises – lapping up the attention from tourists. There were in doggy heaven with more smooches than they could ever need. They stayed away from the food and table areas and were so well behaved, they were a delight. I wanted to stuff them both in my handbag and grapple them away across the pedestrian bridge but they were not wanting to be stolen and I don’t think the bridge would hold me and two squirming massive Labradors.
After lunch there were more vineyards to discover, more excellent wine to taste and an incredible italian dinner to be savoured at Armando’s kitchen in the old Cromwell town centre. We sat on the verandah in the sun and drank up the view across Lake Dunstan talking about what we could do here for jobs. I found a bedraggled little Art Deco house with lake views that needs a lick of paint, so we just need to book the movers now….
the perfect end to another perfect day.