If you are a visitor to Nelson you will have been enjoying the famous Nelson sunshine and sheltering from a few rain showers just like the locals have been and hopefully you have been enjoying some of the wonderful foods and drinks produced in this region.
A month or so ago I asked a local winemaker if he had any final comments for a column I was writing about his winery and he said “tell readers that when family and visitors come to town over the summer rather than sending them to the beach we should send them foraging for local produce, food, wine, cheese and beers so they can take something home that reminds them of their holiday and is useful rather than another dose of sunburn.”
He says to tell you all to get out and enjoy what is on our doorstep, everything is so accessible we are spoiled for choice and of course you should drop in to Te Mania Wines and Richmond Plains, the wineries I was writing about at the time.
I think that is pretty good advice but why limit it to visitors, summer is a time for locals and visitors alike to explore the wide range of culinary delights the regions has to offer.
It is easy to find produce stalls that sell fresh summer berries and finding restaurants, cafes and bars is simple too however there are a few things you can do that will make your foraging a little easier and more interesting.
If you want to spend a day or so touring the highly rated wineries and breweries in the region there are a few things you need to do and remember.
Firstly go to www.winenelson.co.nz or www.craftbrewingcapital.co.nz where you will find tour maps and information about each winery and brewery in the region, including those that are family friendly and those that welcome larger groups of people – not every winery or brewery has the space for several groups at the same time so if you are a group of eight or more phone ahead to check they have space for you.
One brewery with a great café that is very family friendly is Stoke Brewery, owned by the McCashin family this is their latest venture while the Kitchen and Bar has excellent food.
A wine venue that is also family friendly is Petit Fleur at Seifried Estate where there is a small playground for the kids to enjoy.
When you have your tour maps take a few minutes to decide how you are going to spend your day, I think visiting five places including one for a decent lunch makes for a great day out, you will be able to spend a relaxed hour at each place with an hour and a half over lunch and home by about 4.30pm if you start at about 10.30am.
There is one destination other than Nelson city that has something for everyone, Mapua wharf; you will find a great brewery, a wine bar, some very good cafes, a coffee shop, an excellent fish and chip shop as well as an ice cream shop and homewares stores and a gallery so you can mix some retail therapy as well as enjoying food and drink.
If you do choose to take a tour of the region’s wine and beer producers make your day enjoyable and ensure you get back to the place you are staying safely by remembering a few things; while visiting wineries and breweries is a great way to enjoy some of your time in the Nelson region, and businesses here want you to do that, remember that all of these businesses are owned by local operators, not big corporates and while you are not expected to buy anything when you leave don’t treat the hospitality of the owners as an opportunity to get drunk for free.
Some will charge you a tasting fee and will likely not charge it if you buy something when you leave, don’t be offended if you are asked to pay a nominal fee because when these businesses give away tastings it is so you can try-before-you-buy and if you don’t buy then they are giving away their profits.
Wineries and breweries hold liquor licenses that need to be adhered to meaning the second thing to remember is they won’t sell you alcohol if you are under age or have over indulged during the day so if you are refused service then just accept you have had a great day and it is time to head for home.
Wineries and breweries are also industrial work places and not day care centres so if you have children with you they are your responsibility.
While venues make every effort to make sure their places are safe don’t just let the kids run around exploring cool places, there are irrigation ponds on vineyards and heavy machinery working almost every day so make sure you look after them yourself.
Also be a little respectful of others, groups of people having heaps of fun can be loud at times so remember that not everyone wants to be part of your party, your hosts don’t want to be the fun police but they also don’t want to deal with complaints from others who may be enjoying a peaceful vineyard environment.
If you don’t want to do the tour thing then there are lots of options for you to have a great day out in the Nelson region, it doesn’t matter which part of the region you are in there are beaches, rivers, cafés for families, great country pubs or urban based restaurants, cafes and bars who all serve excellent food, most have a great range of local wines and craft beers while all of your hosts want you to take home some wonderful memories and reminders of Nelson.
You can also have a look at my website and read some of the things I have written about Nelson wine, beer, food producers and the cafes and restaurants that turn wonderful Nelson products into delicious treats for you. www.neilhodgson.nz
It doesn’t matter how you spend your time foraging around Nelson food and beverage outlets there is one rule you simply must abide by – never drink and drive.
There are some excellent taxi and sober driver services in the region so even if your designated sober driver decides to enjoy a few drinks there is still absolutely no reason to drink and drive, whether you live here or are visitors Nelson business people in the region want you to come back next year.
On that slightly sobering note Happy New Year everyone, enjoy Nelson and everything the region has to offer.