The time to say good-bye to 2015 is drawing down here in New Zealand. Summertime. Queenstown: gave birth to bungi jumping, playground of the Southern Alps. A perfect day with sunshine, shorts, ice cream, everywhere green save the blue water of Lake Wakatipu and the sky. Mountain peaks bare of their winter snowcover, deep shadows where glaciers have carved deep gashes over tens of thousands years.
I began today’s celebration of the passing year lunching with a dear friend at a quaint winery in the Gibbston Valley, in the South Island’s Central Otago region. We stopped here 12 years ago, on the first day of my first visit to this splendid country, soon after she had moved here to raise her family in the small town of TeAnau.
Waitiri Creek Winery. On our first visit it had only just begun to bottle wine from its small vineyards. They set up a small tasting room and kitchen in an old church building and a few tables in the yard under a huge cottonwood, with a grand view of the valley floor and surrounding hillsides. Today not much has changed. Their wines have matured and they remain a small operation with, I suspect, a growing reputation.
We were lucky to grab one a handfull of reservations for lunch, and blessed with a picture perfect day. We enjoyed a lovely Pinot Gris, perfect with the entres we chose: me a delicately grilled salmon with a beautiful whipped horseradish sauce, and she a melt-in-your-mouth grilled eggplant with a miso whipped butter and crunchy cous cous. We took our time, enjoying each bite, the laid back atmosphere with wee ones playing on the open lawn, and especially, each other’s company. Nothing much has changed in that department either.
Later tonight we will join the celebration in town; toast the new year with perhaps some fresh oysters and green lipped mussels. No doubt topped off with the traditional glass of bubbly and a few fireworks as we look to 2016 and wonder where it will lead us.
Happy New Year my friends! May the coming year be filled with old friends, fine wine, and wondrous adventure.
I invite you to stick around a few moments longer to share some of my favorites from 2015, and check back as I add more in the coming days: