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REBECCA GIBB: ON WINE

KICK BACK IN KUMEU Women like to shop. Not this one. And Christmas is coming. Oh no. I could go and hide in a cave until it’s all over but then I’d miss out on some eating half my body weight in fruit cake and chocolate. Shopping it is then. I usually opt for buying on the internet as I don’t have to brave the crowds. But this year, I’m heading to Kumeu. Kumeu? Yes, it really is only half an hour’s drive from Ponsonby! And instead of fighting the crowds at Westfield, you can spend a morning on the sands of Muriwai beach or cycling at Woodhill before heading back through Kumeu to eat, drink and get your presents. Last time I went up to Kumeu, I arrived unfashionably early for a winery visit having given myself far too much time to get there. It really isn’t that far although some people think it’s the other end of the earth. With time to kill and desperate to powder my nose, I popped into WineArt on the glamorous State Highway 16. It’s a new cellar door, jewellery shop, and gallery rolled into one. Six wineries including Waimarie Wine and Kaipara Estate didn’t have a cellar door so they grouped together together to run this centre. As well as wine tasting, there are some very affordable artworks and locallyproduced jewellery. There’s even a local furniture-maker displaying his wares.

Head to Kumeu on Sunday, 12 December and there’s the added bonus of the first ever Kumeu Country Market. Based at the Showgrounds, it’s going to be a monthly event in 2011 and kicks off with a festive edition. Stock up for Christmas with local produce, or buy those hard to buy family members something off the arts and crafts stalls. You can also keep the kids quiet by packing them off to get their faces painted or ride a pony. Laden with wine, jewellery, art and food, that should be most people ticked off your list. But then there’s a trip to Hallertau’s on the way home. Named after the largest hop producing area in Bavaria, the microbrewery run by beer nut Steve Plowman and his wife has an open fire and couches so comfy that it’s difficult to drive past without stopping and popping in for a quick beer tasting. Previously the beers were only available on tap at Hallertau’s but that all changed this year and you can now buy the beers in a four-bottle pack for Christmas pressies, although you might like them too much to give away. Perhaps hiding in that cave with your newly-acquired stash from Kumeu might be the best option after all. (REBECCA GIBB)

Kumeu River is less than a minute’s drive up the road from WineArt. If you’re looking for a special bottle for your boss or mother-in-law, you could do a lot worse. Its Chardonnays are the best in the country, in my opinion, and don’t cost the earth. It’s come a long way since Mick, grandfather of the current winemaker Michael Brajkovich MW, first bought Kumeu River in the 1940s with the money he made selling his truck to the government for the war effort. Half an acre of grapes grew alongside pumpkins, strawberries and cattle on the 17 acre farm but today you’ll only find vines – 65 acres of them to be precise. Its single vineyard wines, particularly Maté’s Vineyard ($55), in honour of Michael’s father, hold their own against the best Chardonnays in the world. Nearby Cooper’s Creek and Matua Valley are also a great place to kick back and pick up a few bottles for Christmas. Reserve a barbecue at Cooper’s Creek, take your own meat and cook it using vine wood before having a game of petanque or giant-sized chess. It doesn’t cost anything to taste wines at the cellar door so you can decide which bottle of vino you fancy with your meat. The 2007 Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot ($28) is full of plum and tobacco flavours and its lovely acidity and structured tannins would work perfectly with a lamb chop.

82 PONSONBY NEWS+ December 2010

PUBLISHED FIRST FRIDAY EACH MONTH (except January)

DECEMBER/JANUARY '10/ '11 Ponsonby News  

Christmas issue - covering December and January - news/views and all that is happening in and around Ponsonby

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