Misha talks about the recent road trip around New Zealand’s North Island
Andy and I finally found the time to embark on an 11 day 3500km tour New Zealand’s North Island to visit trade customers and hopefully some restaurants and wine retailers that will become new customers!
We started with customer visits in Wellington where the lovely Hanna and Sandy accompanied us to visit wine retailers Moore Wilson, Wineseeker, Centre City Wines & Spirits, Glengarry’s main Wellington store in Thorndon Quay as well as a couple of restaurants. It was great to be able to take the teams at the stores and restaurants through our entire range of wines – the feedback we received was amazing.
We also did took up residence with a virtual Misha’s Vineyard cellar door at Regional Wines for most of a Saturday where we were able to meet many of their regular customers. Guess which wine was the most popular on the day? It was our Limelight Riesling! Everyone always says Riesling is a ‘hard sell’ but I think when people try Riesling, they like it and so our Limelight Riesling was the first wine that ran out of stock. The Regional Wines team just kept taking orders for it as more and more people tried a sample and wanted to buy it.
Then we headed north, stopping briefly in Greytown in the Wairarapa, where we enjoyed a quick lunch at the wonderful Bar Salute which has our Pinot Gris listed (thanks to Rusty). Arriving at Hawkes Bay a day ahead of our scheduled trade visits, we decided to take a day off. So what did we do…visited wineries of course! We headed to the amazing Craggy Range complex and visited Elephant Hill for a stunning lunch. The next day our chief guide (and also doubling as a sales rep for Negociants New Zealand) was Richard Kelly, who somehow managed to fit in a huge number of customers visits as well as ensuring we hit some of the most scenic spots in the region to take in the views! It was great to visit the team at Advintage and Liquor King as well as some of the fabulous restaurants in the region like Shed 2, Pacifica and Corn Exchange. We also went to the Hawkes Bay Club which was established in 1863 – and although it’s a gentleman’s only club, I’ll forgive them for their old-fashioned thinking because although I’m not allowed in there, I’m in by proxy as Misha’s Vineyard wines are now served there.
Hamilton was our next stop and quite a surprise for me as I didn’t realise how many great restaurants there are and how passionate people were about their food and wine. Some of the wonderful restaurants we visited included Domain, Victoria Street Bistro, and Pumice. We had a ‘Flash Mob’ tasting at Primo Vino where the irrepressible Henry Jacobs cajoled with his regular customers who all came in to try the wines and all ended up walking out with cases of them! To our amazement once again, the first wine to have the stocks run short was the Limelight Riesling…and it’s not even summer yet!
The next day was Mt Maunganui and the Tauranga area – which is where Andy was brought up. As we drove through the streets he pointed out his old school, his old house and various other landmarks that had been significant when he was a boy. Nostalgia tour complete, we then set off to meet the team from Liquor King in Mt Mauganui, to find they were already big fans of Misha’s Vineyard, and we also met the lovely folks from Bethlehem Wines and Spirits, Hillsdene Wines, Somerset Cottage and the Mount Bistro. Sonja Scarth from Negociants New Zealand accompanied us on our Hamilton and MtMaunganui/Tauranga trade days and we saw first-hand the wonderful relationship she has built with her customers – they all just love her!
Then it was off back down to the bottom of the North Island to spend a final day with Hanna visiting as many of Wellington’s fab restaurants and bars as we could. The list included Floriditas, Evida Bar, Martin Bosley’s, the Copthorne Hotel stopping for a quick lunch with MariLuca where the very engaging Guiseppe was the perfect host! After our final hectic day we drove onto the ferry ready for our Cook Strait crossing which we anticipated would be bumpy due to all the whitecaps we saw in Wellington. However our fears were allayed and it was a smooth ride over to Picton and the following day we drove the final 9 hours down to Cromwell. It was a brilliant trip and it was really good to see so many trade customers and also to spend time with the wonderful sales team at Negociants New Zealand. We’re so lucky to be working with such wonderful people and we’re looking forward to our next visit northwards!