While in New Zealand, staying with the Husband’s parents, our nearest café is actually a boutique winery called Fossil Ridge. We pass the small vineyard on our daily walk (sometimes several times a day as the Husband tries to balance lots of eating his mother’s fabulous food with regular competitive brother-in-law weigh-ins!) and the walk does occasionally get a little interrupted. An attractive wooden building, set amidst olive groves and overlooking a pond covered with water lilies, the cellar door is a relaxed setting to enjoy a selection of platters and light lunches to accompany its wines. The pond also plays host to a number of ducks, which are endlessly fascinating to a Little Missy who, if she hasn’t fallen asleep in the pushchair on the walk there, is often determined to make her presence felt.
We haven’t yet tried much of the savoury side of the menu – too well fed at home, we are! – but we’re becoming regulars for coffee, which is served with delectable little homemade cookies. Their lemon shortbread is worth checking out and they also make a crunchy Macadamia Caramel Square with locally grown nuts. Each year we visit, we also make a date to try out their wines. For NZ$7, you get to choose four out of their six wines for your tasting plate, accompanied by a few olives and walnuts (although, as the Husband pointed out, both the number of olives and quality of nuts has depreciated since our last visit in 2007).
Although it was their Pinot Noir that we fell for last time round, their latest Pinot vintage, from 2007, didn’t do anything for me. I am, however, a long-time fan of their zesty, slightly honeyed Riesling (2007) and the 2008 Gewürztraminer was a spicy, aromatic mouthful.
Small enough for the personal touch and with just enough wines to taste without confusion, Fossil Ridge is well worth dropping into if you are nearby. Although tempted to try and squeeze a couple of bottles into my luggage, it might be more reasonable to track them down in Ireland. A good excuse for another visit, perhaps…