Monday, January 20, 2014

The Meandering Vineyard Lunch - a Busman's Holiday

Isn't that an enticing name for an event - The Meandering Vineyard Lunch. But it is an accurate one. It happens every year on the Saturday of Wellington Anniversary Weekend, which gifts us all down here an extra Monday off.
Four buses of fifty people each travel around four vineyards, having a delicious entree-sized lunch course and the wines of said vineyard at each stop. Starting off at 10.30am, arriving back at 5.30pm. As each busload leaves, we strip the tables down, then reset them for the next busload. We then serve wine, fill water jugs, ferry plates of food to the tables, flirt and laugh and joke with the guests, and clean up afterwards. For all four visits!
MrC and I are friends with Kathryn and John who own Te Hera, and have volunteered the odd year to go over and skivvy for a couple of bottles of exquisite vino, plus the experience of doing something completely unlike anything else on offer for a day.
This is the Vineyard building at Te Hera -usually full of vats, they have been turfed out for the day in favour of tables, chairs and people! Just to the right you can see a sliver of the tent.
The "Kitchen" tent. There's no room inside for prepping food so it all happens out here. Gives the whole thing the feel of a circus!
Inside the tent - this is what around 50 servings of smoked breast of duck with tabbouleh looks like. And oh me oh my it tasted fantastic too! The guests thought so too - many reported that our course was the best they had had. There is a lot of friendly competition among the vineyards in regard to the food and entertainment offered.

One of the jobs for which I volunteer is washing up. It is not a very arduous task really, as it's all plates and cutlery. This is my station, behind the tent. A vat stand with a pallet on top! hehe. Lovely doing dishes out in the sunshine of a glorious day. Luckily the hire firm wash them again, it's just about getting them cleanish.
Meanwhile back in the winery, John is entertaining the guests with his funny banter while they taste test the Riesling and two Pinots Noirs he produces. MrC and other helpers listen and wait to jump in with a bottle.
The last busload of the day participating in a quiz. John the winemaker is in the foreground.
Hostess Kathryn, dishing out the vino. She thinks it is hilarious that we thank her for letting us slave away all day at the lunch, but it is so much fun!
Meet John Harter. John entertained us all with a great range of classic hits. He is as lovely a man as you would ever want to meet too, as well as being an AWESOME musician. While we were setting up for the first bus, John was mucking about playing blues riffs, and being me I started singing along, making up words about working at the lunch. He thought I have a great voice and challenged me to sing to the guests. So, I did. I did a wee set of 2-3 songs near the end of each sitting. I got some great feedback too. And I tried some scat singing, that was fun!
For those of you who have known me a looong time, you might be thinking Harter, now there's a name I remember and yes, John is Charlie's little brother. And that is only one of many, many examples of the two degrees of separation we noted over the weekend!
And finally around 5.15pm, the last sitting piled back into their bus and departed.
We did the final clean up, then headed back to The Straw Bale House  which is a great place to relax!
We spent two nights away, catching up with other friends, reading, sipping lovely wines and enjoying the fabulous weather.
And now we're home again, watching Sherlock and relaxing. I hope you all had a lovely weekend too!