Last week we had the opportunity to head down to Blenheim for the day to check out the new Wither Hills setup.
Before getting to Wither Hills proper we did a tour of the various vineyards they have dotted around, with different soil compositions and locations which add different flavours to the grapes. Our guide rattled off information, leaving us rather famished by the end of it. This was fine though, because we had a feast awaiting us.
Celebrating the wines for which they are famous, the new Wither Hills restaurant offers a lunch-time service and menu which matches a selection of their award-winning wines with delicious cuisine showcasing the region’s best produce. You enjoy all of this inside an entirely new location redesigned by New Zealand interior designer and judge of TV3’s The Block, Paul Izzard.
With a coastline blessed with an array of seafood and a region rich in produce, the restaurant’s menu changes regularly according to the best local goods on offer.
We were personally treated to a four course meal overlooking a view of the Wairau Valley starting with seared scallops with confit potato, prosciutto and lime aioli paired with a 2015 Rarangi Sauvignon Blanc.
The next two courses were gravlax with fennel salad and herb oil followed by seared lamb with ancient grains and pinot jus. They were paired with a 2015 Benmorven Chardonnay (which received a gold trophy alongside the Wither Hills Chardonnay 2014 at the recent 2016 Marlborough Wine Show) and a 2014 Taylor River Pinot Noir respectively.
For dessert we had Chocolate semi freddo with berry compote paired with a Legado Fortified Pinot Noir 2014. I’m not going to lie we had some wine before lunch as well. Sleeping on the plane back to Auckland was a must.
Afterwards they showed us the cellar, which is also available for dining in and having private functions. The decor itself makes you feel like you’re inside a large spacious barrel. Our guides explained to us since the quakes vineyards in the South Island have started to arrange their cellars in line with the direction of the tectonic plates, to save the barrels from falling onto the floor.
A fun group activity is making your own wine blends and pretending to be a sommelier for an afternoon. Blend and have them judged by a professional to see who among you and your friends is the one wine connoisseur to rule them all.
A five minute drive from Blenheim, the Wither Hills Cellar Door and Restaurant is open 7 days from 10:30am to 4:30pm. Bookings are available via telephone and www.witherhills.co.nz. Reservations are recommended, but not required and walk-ins will be warmly welcomed.
The venue will also be available for small functions and private dining from December, and weddings. It’s a totally cute location for it as well! But alas, we had to go back home to Auckland.