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Featured Restaurant
posted April 7th 2002 features the Vineyard Dining series in 2002.

Cafe sign

Waipara Springs Winery and Cafe
409 Omihi Road
(State Highway 1)
Phone/Fax (03) 314 6777

Daily: 11 am - 5.00pm
(except 24,25,26 Dec and 1 Jan)
Closed after Queens Birthday until September

It was busy the day we arrived at the Waipara Springs Winery and Café. It was a spur of the moment decision and we hadn't booked. It was about 12.45pm and the place was chokka. The conservatory part of the restaurant was full, as was the inside dining area through the tasting room.

We were not surprised. After all it was the weekend and Waipara is only a 40-minute drive north of Christchurch City.

But there was no-one sitting outside. Again not surprising, for it had been raining.

We decided to take a chance with the vagaries of the weather. So we sat at one of the wooden tables with the sun umbrella down, thinking we could raise the umbrella if a shower happened to pass. It hadn't actually rained for a while, as the seats at this table were dry. The people in the conservatory were starting to feel the heat and the yellow and white striped canvas wall that was protecting them from the passing showers, was rolled up.

Perusing the menu, there was such a selection of delights. Oh, what to choose.

Today's specials were a Roast rib with scallop potatoes, mushrooms and a spicy sausage ($19). This sounded too rich for me. I did like the sound of the Coconut Duck Breast with Jasmine Rice and Greens Beans ($21), however. But I only wanted a light lunch.

Most of the meals, except the specials, ranged in price from $14 to $17.50. Pretty reasonable, I thought.

SSAPP - Smoked Salmon, avocado and pawpaw at Waipara Springs Eventually I decided on the SSAPP - smoked salmon, avocado and pawpaw mixed salad with a lemon vinaigrette ($17.50), while Neil chose the Hot Chicken Salad with cashews and banana and his choice of dressing ($16.00).

While we were waiting for the meals to arrive, we decided to do a wine tasting and find a wine to match our meals.

There's a good selection of wines at Waipara Springs, a delicious little 2001 Sauvignon Blanc that was doing great things on the show circuit, a Lightly Oaked 2001 Chardonnay and a sweet and fruity Blush wine. And of course the pinot noirs. I had loved the Reserve 2000 Pinot Noir at the trade tastings last year. This wasn't available by the glass today.

So I decided on the bright and zesty Waipara Springs Dry Riesling from the 2000 vintage. It was priced at $4.50 a glass.

I was engrossed in the tasting and the artwork on the walls that I hadn't realised it was raining. But Jill Moore, who runs the restaurant and winebar, had. She came over to let us know she had moved all our gear inside and set us up at a table that had recently been vacated. Now that's service, I thought. And it was service with a smile.

Our meals were ready and boy they looked a treat. My SSAPP was delicious and just the right weight for lunch. Neil was happy with his chicken as well.

Could we be tempted by dessert? Perhaps a Chocolate cake with raspberries, cream & chocolate sauce ($8.50) or a Sticky toffee pudding, caramel sauce & vanilla ice cream (also $8.50). No, not today. There were things to do back in Christchurch and soon we were on our way again.

If you are passing through Waipara, I suggest you take a stop at this, one of the regions older wineries. The converted old farm buildings and grounds are lovely. I could imagine this on a dry summer's day with the grounds filled with groups of friends or families, or the passing couple such as us.

The prices are reasonable, the food is good and the service is friendly. And the wine tastings are free. What more could you ask for.

However, I suggest you make a booking if you are planning to visit on a weekend and want to be assured of a table when you arrive.

Check it out on the web at

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