May 13

Our day was spent almost entirely filled with food and alcohol. We got coffees from an excellent coffee shop in town called Ritual and meandered around drinking them. Then we made our way out into the vineyard part of town. We checked out a few gourmet food shops, one of which gave me a sample of a New Zealand liqueur, Ti Toki. It was sweet and syrupy, but the flavor was quite nice, a bit orangey and anisey. Then we headed to the stop that I’ve been looking forward to the most, Makana Chocolate Factory. I wasn’t disappointed. The chocolate was to die for and the saleswoman took a liking to me and continuously fed me samples during our visit. Many of their chocolates utilize macadamia nuts, which I love. They don’t use any peanuts in the facility at all. Their macadamia and dark chocolate toffee was the best toffee I have ever had. We left with a box of dark chocolate macadamia bark and happy stomachs. After our brief visit to (my idea of) heaven, we headed to Brancott Estate for lunch.

Fran spoiled us in the best way. He sent us course after course of food. It was absolutely amazing. I also did a tasting of their Sauvignon Blanc line. Laurie and the kids joined us for our fabulous afternoon. The view overlooking the vineyard was breathtaking. After lunch, Annie Bella and I raced down to visit the falcons that were protected on site.

In the evening we visited Groovetown Hotel for dinner and drinks. The pub was fascinating. It was packed with locals and served NZ beer. The food was Japanese, however. The owner was also working on the bar and he told us of his plans to expand into brewing his own beer. He was also planning to convert his decorative water wheel into a functioning mill for the grains. It is absolutely worth a visit!

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