edited by Sue Courtney
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Wineoftheweek.com features the Vineyard Dining series in 2002.
The Winemaker's Daughter Brasserie
The Winemaker's Daughter Brasserie
Travelling on State Highway One from Auckland to Wellington, the sign for the Winemaker's Daughter Brasserie and Winery at Te Horo looked welcoming to the weary travellers. We made the turn and drove along the metal drive to the car park.
The cafe looks nothing from the outside. In fact the vertical wooden panelled building looks distinctly unattractive. But walk through that door, past the tasting area at the bar, through the restaurant and out into the covered garden dining area and the contrast is amazing. It was January and the bougainvillea and other flowering vines abounded, twisting around the supporting structures and hanging from the roof with their pink, purple, red and white blooms in abundance.
A narrow garden with border flowers and white roses separated the paved dining area and a grassed area, while tall punga fences hid neglected areas.
There's a small stage in one corner but no entertainment the day we visited. We're content with the songs of the twittering birds and the zizzing of cicadas that fill the summer air, drowning out the distant noise of the SH1 traffic.
We peruse the menu. It has an extensive selection.
Starters begin with a plate of chips for $5.50, to a selection of Kapiti cheeses - appropriate for the Kapiti Coast- a platter for two costs $15 while Antipasto for two costs $15.50. Average price for starters hovers around the $9 mark, however.
Mains start at $10 with the most expensive item being Scotch Fillet at $20.
However the 'specials' board should not be ignored. There was a good selection of mains for $10 including a 'Vegetarian Burger', a 'Winemakers Burger', a 'Sauteed chicken & mushroom penne pasta with salad', a 'Feta and Tarragon Tart' and a 'Bacon and Brie Salad'.
And for the early morning arriving diner, a hearty cooked breakfast with bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggs and toast for $12.50.
However I thought the pan-fried crumbed fish with aioli on a tossed fresh salad was a good-sized portion and super value @ $10.50.
There's an extensive wine list of mostly commercial NZ lines and of course the Te Horo and Radical wines. Best picks for lunch were Mission Estate Pinot Gris and Shingle Peak Sauvignon Blanc, both @ $26.50/bottle or $6.50/glass.
We took the opportunity to try a selection of the vineyard's product. A tasting cost $3 for 3 glasses, and the pourings were substantial enough for the two of us to share.
The Te Horo Vineyards HV Merlot Cabernet 2000 ($14/bottle) is light clear ruby in colour with a peppery aroma, rose-like florals and herbs in the palate with strawberry and light redcurrant fruit and an earthy finish.
The Te Horo Vineyards Amarone ($14/bottle) is a much deeper red with pinky-red rims and an orange tinge. It smelled like an Amarone with its slightly oxidative character. Quite rich and vinous with licorice-influenced raisin characters and a warm bread and berry finish. Don't drink too much of this @ 15.7% alcohol you'll quickly be over the legal driving limit.
To finish we tried something completely different - one of winemaker Alistair Pain's fruit wines. The Parsonage Hill Strawberry Wine took my fancy. It's a medium dry crisp wine with ripe strawberry and a slightly savoury character on the sweetish finish. Could be nice if chilled, I thought although Neil wasn't too enamoured.
The stop at Te Horo for a spot of wine tasting and a bite to eat on our journey south was a pleasant break. It's about an hour's drive north of Wellington on a good traffic day.
In summary the staff were friendly and the food was good but visiting the basic loos around the side of the building (take your brolly on a wet day) was an experience in itself - I've never seen such a wide gap between the bottom of the door and the floor.
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