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-6-3: Waipara Valley4: Martinborough1&2: Central Otago● Wellington● ChristchurchQueenstown◆ 1: Gibbston (Central Otago)Our first destination after departing Narita and transiting in Auckland was Queenstown, in the South Island. From the airport we headed to Kinross Cottage in Gibbston, which is about 30 minutes by car. Gibbston is one of seven winery sub-regions in Central Otago. The wineries are set among vineyards along both sides of the road. Most wineries have a cellar door and offer paid tasting (about $15 ‒ free if you buy wine). Kinross Cottage where we stayed also offered tastings of local wineries without a cellar door. The cottage has accommodation, bistro, and its own winery. And since it was a Sunday, the bistro was full of people enjoying a meal outside with a glass of wine during the day. Guests overnighting at the Cottages are offered a tasting session from 18:00 in the evening, and as there was still some time we decided to rent a bike, and visit two wineries close by that were recommended by the bike shop owner. We were told to follow the Queenstown Trail, a bicycle-only gravel path that runs beside the main road. In the surrounding vineyards, roses are planted at the end of the rows, and their red and yellow flowers add a beautiful touch of colour. The roses protect the grapes from harmful insects, and also give a visual indication of the condition of the grapes. A cute winery dog welcomed us at the two wineries we visited. As well as serving as a mascot at the cellar door, the dogs’ main job is to get rid of rabbits in the vineyard. At both wineries, when they found out we were wine lovers, they recommended wines that weren’t on their wine list, and enthusiastically explained them even though it was after closing time.◆ 2: Bannockburn (Central Otago) On our second day in New Zealand, we headed to Felton Road in Bannockburn. I was honoured to have the opportunity to talk with winemaker Blair Walter. Blair enthused about Japan, and his two visits to Village Cellars in Himi, and the delicious Toyama sushi he enjoyed. Even his favourite cat which has a silver coat is named ‘Ginza’. We then joined a visiting tour group to see the winery, cellar and vineyards, before we had a tasting. I will never forget the taste of the very first glass, the 2018 Bannockburn Pinot Noir. What exceptional luck! Leaving Felton Road, we lunched at Carrick Wines restaurant which Blair had recommended. We enjoyed a light lunch with a tasting of 3 wines and cheese board on the terrace, which had a nice view. Unfortunately, we couldn’t visit Sato Wines, as Mr. and Mrs. Sato were on an overseas business trip. Instead, we visited a winery recommended to us the previous day which didn’t require a reservation for tasting. It was excellent.◆3: Waipara Valley (North Canterbury)Our next destination was Waipara Valley. First we headed to Mountford Estate, an hour’s drive north of Christchurch. Leaving the main road, we found ourselves driving down a gravel road to the winery. At the winery we went down the stairs and opened the wooden door to find a beautifully-appointed tasting room, with a breathtaking view of the vineyard from the window at the end of the room. This spacious room was impossible to imagine from the quiet appearance of the entrance. The slender, symmetrically arranged trees and vine rows, clear blue skies, mountains in the distance ‒ everything seems to have been calculated to look perfect from this tasting room. The day we visited, the harvest of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for making sparkling wine had just begun, and three Japanese were involved in the harvest including winemaker Takahiro Koyama, who makes both the Mountford Estate and Koyama Wines. Mr. Koyama showed us around the vineyards and the winery, and joined us for a tasting. Mountford’s Pinot Noir has a dense barrel style, while the Koyama Wines Pinot Noir is lighter and more fruit-oriented. The transparent liquid pouring into the glass shone like a garnet gem. The taste is pure and a little pointed, and the freshness of the red fruits is outstanding. I gained an appreciation for how Mr. Koyama’s personality shows through in his wines.In the afternoon, we enjoyed a late lunch at Pegasus Bay. The rustic L-shaped wooden counter is always busy with visitors enjoying tastings. During our visit, we spent time with Paul Donaldson, general manager of the winery and youngest of the four Donaldson brothers working in the business. While tasting a succession of Pegasus Bay and Main Divide wines at the cellar door counter, we learned about the characteristics of each wine and the story of the Donaldson Family. All the wines we tasted were excellent, especially the white aromatic varieties such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muscat. While expressing the individuality of each variety with a gorgeous fragrance, refreshing acidity, pure fruit and umami, the balance was always refined. We enjoyed lunch in the beautiful garden with its seasonal flowers. Not only the wine but also the food and service were excellent, and we enjoyed a pleasant time cooled by the refreshing breeze.New Zealand Winery Tourー*ーI’d like to introduce myself ‒ I’m Satomi Ishikawa, and I joined the team this April. Prior to starting, I took the opportunity to tour New Zealand wineries with my daughter who also loves wine. It was late February when the COVID-19 epidemic was just beginning to spread. In the rapidly changing global environment, I hope everyone who reads this is keeping safe.   (Satomi Ishikawa Marketing Division)Prior to joining our Village Cellar’s team in April this year, Satomi Ishikawa enjoyed a holiday in New Zealand where she visited several wineries we represent in Japan. Having contacted the wineries ahead of her departure, she was treated to some very special experiences during her visit. She shares her fresh perspective on these wineries and their wines.Village CellarsWine Region from the Tourist’s PenAll wines are 750ml unless otherwise specied. Prices do not include Consumption Tax.

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