To celebrate our one year anniversary Jess and I left Wellington’s icy spring wind and shot up to Hawke’s Bay for a weekend of wine, biking and arguing over the best Sarah McLachlan song. Hawke’s Bay is on the east side of the north island, and in addition to abundant sunshine and buttery chardonnay, the region is beloved for its art deco architecture, the aesthetic of choice for those who rebuilt the city following a disastrous 1931 earthquake.
On a tip from my workmate Rob, we chose the County Hotel, billed proudly as “Napier’s Finest.” And it was. Upon arrival we were ushered with stately diplomacy to what I only can assume was a haunted room because its appointment of flowers, chocolate, fruit, mineral water and a sincere “happy anniversary” from the bellman with butter teeth seemed more than we’d bargained for.
All the closets cleared of corpses, downstairs we went to the Wine Street Restaurant for a candlelit five course meal included with our booking. It was a movable feast and one I’m now barely able to restrain myself from describing. I will say that Jess ordered the beef cheeks.
The next morning it was off to the wineries. We pedalled north along the ocean into 60mph headwinds. By the time we reached Crab Farm Winery 45 minutes later, I saw Jess’ finger hovering over the suicide vest detonator. But after a bit of rose and good vibes from the bohemian decor and unpretentious wine pourer, our chill had been restored.
Next a flurry of stops to Mission Estate, Church Road Winery and the Filter Room before a tipsy ride home at dusk. All up we biked around 25 miles and tasted some 100% goodness, but the region is vast and we agreed that another trip is needed to reach the wineries on the southern outskirts of our tattered bike map.
After a full day of boozing Uncle Jesse was quick to hit the sack. But it was only 6pm and I still had a little romance left in me, so what’s a man to do but crack a bottle of wine from the minibar, draw himself a bath and put on an Adam Carolla podcast. Dare I say it was the best hour of the trip? JK UJ!
Well the joke was on me because next morning at checkout I saw a $48 charge from the minibar. For that unpriced bottle of merlot?! Funny how it tasted okay at the time but after I saw the bill suddenly I was all like “man, that red really did have some legs didn’t it. And the finish? Sublime. Reminiscent of the Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac circa 1996.”
Before leaving town we ducked into Mister D for one of his famous donuts. Warm, doughy, cinnamon goodness, complete with a syringe of custard. Perfect those with a hankering for sugar and injections. Practice for the insulin shot perhaps?
We took the scenic route home. Even stopped for a kiss under the tree to commemorate our wedding one year prior. Still had a little romance left in me.