We were treated to wine tasting and luncheon at Ake Ake Winery as a shore excursion on a wine maker's cruise on the Marina of Oceania Cruise Line. The ship has a Bon Appetite Culinary Center on board and we were accompanied on this day trip by the Center's Culinary Chef. We were a small group who traveled from the port in Paihia to this winery in the heart of Kerikeri, a furtilen area where grape vines were first planted nearly 200 years ago. We were greeted by the winemaker and chef and given a tour of the vineyard with explanations about Ake Ake's wine making techniques which include "terroir" which produces award winning wines every year. It was a beautiful fall day and the grapes had been picked so we ate outside enjoying a bistro-style restaurant. We first tasted all of the wines produced by the vineyard including Pinot Gris, Viognier ,Sauvignon Blanc, Chambourcins ,Cabernet Merlot Blends and a few other varietals with which we were not familiar. Very generous tastings! Our luncheon included a choice of local fresh fish or lamb, all locally grown vegetables and deserts to die for. Everything was beautifully prepared and served. The pan roasted snapper with capsicum coulis was excellent. The wine flowed and we were all glad that we were not driving! This was the best culinary wine tour we experienced as a ship sponsored shore excursion. In addition to the winery, we stopped at Makana Confections where we sampled hand made chocolates that made your mouth water. All of this on the way inland from Paihia to Kerikeri. It was a delightful day and gave us time at the end to wander around Paihia before the cruise ship set sail. We would highly recommend visiting both of these establishments when you are in the Bay of Islands region of NZ.
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