On 30th March we welcomed a group of 20 Canadian visitors to Misha’s Vineyard. Lead by well-known Toronto wine writer and educator David Lawrason, the wine interest group was part of a larger “Gold Medal Plates” tour from Canada who were visiting New Zealand. Gold Medal Plates raises money for high performance Canadian athletes through culinary events and trip auctions.
With the weather having been forecast cold and damp we were delighted to see clear skies and no wind in the morning as we set up marquee, tables and wine table ahead of their arrival. The area around Ah Foo’s House on the Top Block of Misha’s Vineyard has been used for smaller groups and tastings before, but not for a larger scale lunch so our vineyard crew had done some clearing work earlier in the week to make sure we had space for the lunch marquee and a gazebo for the food and wine. We lit the fire in Ah Foo’s to make sure there was some warmth should the weather turn cold and to add to the character and atmosphere of the site.
On arrival the group were given an introduction to Misha’s Vineyard and an overview of the Central Otago wine region by Vineyard Manager Michelle Dacombe and Misha’s Vineyard winemaker Olly Masters. This introduction included a tour of the vineyard with Michelle to see the slopes and soils of the vineyard, and a tasting of wines from Misha’s Vineyard, Aurum, Quartz Reef and Mondillo hosted by Olly to show the quality and diversity of wines from the region. One of our seasonal vineyard team – Haruru Kubo a sommelier from Tokyo – helped with pouring the wines as we talked about the climate, soils, viticulture and winemaking that has propelled Central Otago wines to prominence in such a short time.
The group were staying at The Rees Hotel & Luxury Apartments in Queenstown, and lunch was prepared by hotel General Manager Mark Rosewho proved his culinary expertise in quite rustic surroundings. With limited cooking facilities available on the vineyard Mark and Mika used Ah Foo’s fireplace to prepare the Paella and our small BBQ to cook the chicken and seafood topping. The lunch was quite spectacular. The fireplace gave a slight smoky note to the Paella which was sensational, and the finishing touches produced a platter that could have been from any fine dining kitchen. Ah Foo would have been impressed!
David Lawrason gave a pre-lunch talk on the wines we had for the day, plus some other wines of New Zealand that had been bought along to show the group. It was really interesting to hear his perspective on the wines of New Zealand and how each region has such distinctive characters that show through.
Lunch was a huge success and we won a lot of fans for Central Otago wines from this high profile Canadian group. Thanks to Rudi (Quartz Reef), Lucie (Aurum) and Dominic (Mondillo) for assisting with great wines.