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Featured Restaurant
posted April 27 2003

Wineoftheweek.com features the Vine Dining series.

Seifried Vineyard Restaurant
Cnr State Highway 60 and Redwood Road
Rabbit Island Turnoff
Appleby
Nelson
Phone 03 544 1555

Lunches 7 days a week
Evening Dining 7 days over summer
Friday and Saturday Night Dining in Winter


When wine touring in Nelson you just have to call into Seifried's impressive vineyard complex to have a taste of the wines. It had been many years since I had visited Nelson and the Siefried Winery had moved in that time from the location in the Moutere Hills to their present site adjacent to the busy highway from Nelson to Motueka. There is plenty of parking at the complex, which houses the restaurant and function centre and across the car park, the winery.

You might even be served by Hermann Seifried himself in the tasting room (see photo), where it seems just about every wine is available for tasting and what's more, at no charge.

Seifried's make some darn good Chardonnay and I have always been a fan of the Seifried Winemaker's Reserve Gewurztraminer. The fresh flavoured 2002 Sauvignon Blanc tasted pretty awesome to a thirsty wine taster while the Pinot Noir was not too bad a drop either. Finish the tasting with one of Seifried's delicious sweeties to taunt the tastebuds until the next stop.

But Siefried Estate was also a welcome stop for lunch. It was a November Monday when I called into the winery centre and the place was more or less deserted of visitors but the restaurant was huge and I imagine it could get very busy at times. Today conversation would echo throughout the high ceiling, tiled floor dining room decorated in a soft yellow with wall hangings on the upper walls. The outdoor tables that were soaking up the late spring November sunshine seemed far more attractive and other diners thought so too, for when I stepped outside I found this is where they were all hidden. Here the formality of the dining room is taken away with the tables on the cushioning carpet of green grass and a back drop of the more casual looking wooden facade of the building.

The lunch menu made interesting reading and many of the dishes had vinous themes such as Cellarhands' Choice, Winemasters' Whim, Grapepickers' Treat, Winemaker's Catch, and the Pruners' Salad. Each menu item was rather temptingly described and came complete with a suggested wine match. Prices ranged from $12.50 for quiche and salad to $18.50 for the Redwood Valley Porterhouse steak with a Portobello mushroom ragout topping the list at $18.50.

I decided to order the Winemakers' Catch, the pan fried fish of the day which today was freshly caught snapper rubbed with NZ kelp pepper and served over a wild and white rice moistened with an almond butter sauce, alongside a smoked tomato and roasted capsicum salsa. The menu suggestion was dry Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc and for me this was an easy choice. The tomato, capsicum and kelp pepper begged to be match with the pungent savvie. Indeed the match was superb.

Siefried Estate Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2002 is pale straw with subtle yeasty limey aromas. There's good pungency and zest in the mouth, grassy with ripe fruits and a melon-like fullness, a slightly grainy texture and a long lingering flavours. Another good Nelson sauvignon blanc from the vintage. The pungency and zest of sauvignon blanc goes well with the salty flavours of the kelp pepper, which is actually farmed kelp that has been purposely dried and crumbled to make a spicy food seasoning.

Winemakers' Catch cost $16.50, the wine $6 a glass and the servings of both were generous. Well I do have to confess I couldn't finish my delicious meal. A hungry diner would be well replete.

I peeked at the evening menu which had a selection of seasonal entrées priced from $5 for the Soup of the Day to $15.50 for new season Nelson scallops. The main courses ranged in price from $18.50 for Indonesian style noodles to $26 for Chargrilled Fillet Steak with Kikorangi Blue Cheese and a port wine glaze. The evening menu did not list any wine suggestions, however.

Agnes Seifried joined me in the sun and we talked about the company.

Hermann was one of the first winemakers in the Nelson area, certainly the first of the 'modern' era for although there had been dabbling earlier in the century, none of those plantings still exist today.

An Austrian by birth, he studied winemaking in Austria and then in Germany. After graduating he was bonded to the German government and went to KWV for 3 years.

He was bought to Nelson by the Apple and Pear Marketing Board, specifically to make fruit wines. That was where Agnes, a schoolteacher from Southland, met him. They married.

Hermann really wanted to make wine from grapes so the couple approached the bank manager for a loan. "You will never grow grapes in the South Island" said the moneylender. "But if the MAF will support your application, we will support you too". MAF, the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, wouldn't. "You'll have to go to the North Island if you want to be grape growers", they said.

But Hermman thought the Neslon region had potential for grapes. Agnes was 25 and he was 26. They had little capital but they scraped together the money and bought 30 acres of land at Moutere. It was 1973. A nursery was established and grafted cuttings of 14 different varieties were planted into their first 5 acre (2 ha) vineyard in 1974. They produced their first wine in 1976.

The next block they planted was Riesling and the Bachtobel clone of Pinot Noir. These varieties had proved to be good performers in the vineyard so far. Then gradually they expanded the vineyard with plantings of Sylvaner (which they later pulled out), Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and lastly Sauvignon Blanc. (The Seifried Chardonnay has won gold for every vintage since they first started producing it in the early 1990's.)

By 1996 they had outgrown the Moutere site. They sold it (to Greg and Amanda Day who operate as 'Kahurangi') and moved to their current, more accessible location, which they had purchased in 1979 for vineyard and had since established the restaurant.

Winemaking is becoming a tradition in the Seifried Family. Their eldest daughter, Heidi, was in Oregon as we spoke, doing vintage at Yamhill. Another daughter, Anna, was working for Vintage Cellars in Australia. Chris, who studied at Wagga and has worked 'all over', has taken over the winemaking reigns from Hermann. "It's simply great" said Agnes with a mother's proud smile.

Find out more about Seifried Estate from their website - www.seifried.co.nz.


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