To Our Kiwi Friends

By: leelefever on February 8, 2006 - 2:44pm

By itself, New Zealand has been amazing – as expected. But it has been the people, especially the ones that have opened their homes and hearts to us that have made it truly special.  We had a wonderful time with everyone.

Rachel and Regan, you were our introduction to New Zealand and showed us Auckland and got us started on the right foot with the Kiwi lingo and L&P. We’ll always remember “sweet as” and “yeah nah yeah”. Thanks for the bbq dinner too (and the wifi)!

Robin, our guide to Devonsport… thanks so much dinner and teaching us all about Auckland, including politics.  The folk music concert was a great time- sorry we had to run to the ferry so abruptly!

Hal and Trish, our personal guides to Hawkes Bay wineries.  Thanks so much for the tours, salmon dinner and a great night outside the campervan with great company and nice broadband! J

Maitland, we had such a blast with you man!  Peka Peka beach is such a special place- you’re lucky to be able to hang out there.  We loved Wellington too and hope we can hang out sometime, maybe in another galaxy at least.  Thanks too for the wifi love.

Dan, a perfect Christchurch host, from whom we learned about things such as kiwiana (like Americana) and the social history of NZ.  Thanks for the food, lodging, wifi, hospitality and introducing us to your friends.  Go well!

You all have a place to stay in Seattle ANY TIME and we hope we’ll see you there.  Just remember we’ll be there in 2007. Cheers!

Hawkes Bay WineTasting Tour

By: leelefever on January 18, 2006 - 1:51am

I first met Hal at the Blogs n Dogs conference in Banff, where he told me that he spends a lot of time in NZ and would be there when we come through.  Sure enough, we met Hal today with his lovely partner Trish.  They live in the town of North Havelock, just south of Napier, in the heart of North Island wine country.


The theme for today was wine tasting.  We went to about 5 different places including:

Matariki, Unison and Trinity Hill were wines that were a part of the region called Gimblett Gravel. In visiting the wineries, it's easy to see why.  The vineyards are planted in soil high in gravel content.  A river used to flow through the region, which imparted the soil with the gravel.  About 120 years ago, the river changed course, leaving the land for great grape growing.  The gravel allows water to flow through the soil more quickly, intesifying the taste of the grapes (so they told us). At Unison, a tiny winery, the vinter himself poured our tastings.  This is, obviously, Trinity Hill below.


Clearview and Kim Crawford were two others on the Hawkes Bay Coastal village of Te Awanga. 

After the wine tasting, Hal and Trish treated us to an awesome dinner and real bed for the night, which is very welcome after sleeping in Squeak, our campervan.  We have had an awesome time and, once again, had a  great experience with locals.  Trish is a lifelong Kiwi and taught us about the educational system, regional reputations and the Hawkes Bay area.  Hal, an American who has done business all over the world, told us great stories about the issues with doing business in China and secrets of the Olympics.  Hal and Trish completely rock and we owe them a huge thanks.

Tomorrow, we're off to Peka Peka Beach and meeting a guy named Maitland who we'll hang with for a couple of days.

By the way, Sachi was originally going to write this but the wine and dinner got the best of her and she had to retire for the evening. More soon from her...


Sonoma, California: Elegantly Casual

By: leelefever on October 7, 2005 - 8:29am

I’m not doing much “wine country” sight seeing while in Sonoma.  Though, I have had a couple of glasses of nice red wine (it’s required while here).  The hotel where I’m saying provides a free bottle of white wine in the little mini-fridge.  A nice touch that I may have to take advantage of tonight.


Sonoma is one of those places that is almost too nice, whatever that means. It’s historic, beautiful and cultured.  Being “wine country”, it has an inherent bit of snootiness that’s not very palpable, but there and perhaps even part of the culture. Last year when I was here for the same conference, I went to a wine shop on the plaza and got the feeling that the people in the shop didn’t really want to talk to me about how little I know about wine.


Sonoma a playground for the wine-sipping and appreciating populations of America.  With them (us?) comes a bit of class and high expectations as a group.  Fortunately, Sonoma works hard to exceed those expectations, which means really great food, yummy wine in a beautiful, laid back setting for all comers. 


Last night I had an excellent dinner at the El Dorado kitchen, which is described in what must be the most popular words in Sonoma: "elegant casual." It fits.


I’m heading back to Seattle tomorrow (Saturday).


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