January 8th, 2013 at 7:02 am by David Farrar


On Monday we headed to , near Cromwell, where we spent the afternoon tasting. First stop was Terra Sancta, where former NZX boss Mark Weldon gave us a very knowledgeable rundown on the various grape areas, soil minerals and blends. Sadly as my suitcase was already full, I could only buy a couple of bottles of their lovely Mysterious Diggings Late Harvest Gewurtztraminer. Was also very taken by the Terra Sancta Estate Slapjack Block Riesling, which is unusual for me as I am not normally a Riesling person.


You can actually do a walk through parts of the vineyard.


After lunch we also went to Mt Difficulty and Felton Road. Mt Difficulty also had some great wines. Didn’t get excited over anything at Felton Road, but by then had tried well over a dozen so might just have been a tired palate.

We did lunch at Bannockburn Hotel. It was decent pub food, and pleasant service.

I must mention the appalling service at the (otherwise lovely) Pub. We did dinner there on Sunday, and after drinking outside, moved to the restaurant area for dining. The others ordered a bottle of wine which was served up. As I was driving I was on soft drinks, so asked for a diet coke. The waitress said that I should go and queue at the bar to get one. Hugely unimpressed.

My last night in was last night. Have been very fortunate with the weather – almost non-stop sun. It is a minor miracle I have not become a lobster.

6 Responses to “Bannockburn”

  1. Pete George (24,828 comments) says:

    Didn’t cross paths DPF but followed some of the same. I’ve just been wine tasting in Central too, and had an evening meal at the Bannockburn pub.

    Terra Sancta looks to be the new identity for one of Bannockburn’s original vineyards, Olsens. No mention of this heritage on their website.

    It’s easy for the palate to get jaded. I didn’t enjoy much at Peregrine but that was in the worst of Sunday’s afternoon Central heat. Also in Gibbston the next day we started at Waitiri Creek and it was much better, and they do a very good pizza. Much more relaxed setting than Peregrine (garden surrounding a relocated church).

    And yesterday we went to Northburn, very close to my old home territory. Probably the best setting for a vineyard in Central. Started with a wine tasting, some were nice enough but hard to justify the premium prices. But then we sat down for an excellent lunch and some of the same wines (pinot noir) tasted much nicer with food.

    The problem with wine tasting lined up at a counter is you can be over critical and don’t have the ambience that can often make a drinking experience.

    A special mention at Northburn for their Sandy King’s Sauvignon Blanc. It was very palatable (the first wine tasted so that helps). But it had a special historical irony, when I was a kid the local swimming hole on the Clutha was Sandy King’s Island just north of Northburn (now under Lake Dunstan) – and in those days wine was unheard of, it was always just one brew, flagons of Speights.

    There’s a huge contrast between now and then, both beverages and what we ate. I grew up on chops and roast mutton. Yesterday I had sheep for lunch but the description was a lot different.

    One of my favourite childhood pastimes was gorging on cherries, all the old trees at Lowburn are gone now (replanted in vines), so our reliable source now is McFarlane’s at Ripponvale. And great (fresh tree ripened) peaches from the only remaining old family orchard – Webbs, just north of the Queenstown/Wanaka intersection) at Cromwell.

    My old home territory has changed radically, especially since childhood, but substantially in the last twenty years, first with the flooding of Lowburn (Northburn used to be a part of Lowburn, now it’s across the lake). And now the proliferation of vineyards has further transformed the whole area.

    Meat and two veg and arguing over DB versus Speights has become fine dining with a myriad of choice of ales and wines.

    New Zealand lifestyles have changed a huge amount in my lifetime, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the Cromwell area.

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  2. Dean Papa (788 comments) says:

    I hope that waitress doesn’t get in trouble when her boss reads this. Obviously, she did not realise she was in the presence of a celebrity blogger.

    [DPF: Every customer has access to the Internet and Trip Advisor. I hope her boss does read it, so they can improve their customer service.]

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  3. nasska (16,733 comments) says:

    Another hope you could entertain is that the same celebrity blogger doesn’t tire of an embittered, envy ridden socialist with the weight of the Kaiangaroa Forest bearing down on one shoulder posting snide comments.

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  4. pq (728 comments) says:

    The sun and climate in Bannockburn was great for apricots, but then in the 1980’s they went crazy, ripped out all the apricots and planted Vinyards. I don’t know why but apricots are now not so popular.
    The food I was served in Queenstown and Wanaka and Arrowtown,this year, well it was bloody average and pretentious.
    I had to wait till we cruised back through Timaru to get a good porterhouse steak.

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  5. pq (728 comments) says:

    Farrars review of Cardrona Hotel

    “Lovely pub, poor service”
    Reviewed January 7, 2013 NEW
    Been to the Cardrona Hotel several times, as love having a drink in their outdoors area. On Sunday went there with friends and after drinking outside, we moved to the restaurant area for dinner. Our table was shocked when my request to a waitress for a drink with dinner was met with a request for me to go up and queue at the bar to order it. I’ve never known a venue to provide table service for food, not drink.

    another review says

    “Not what we expected”
    Reviewed January 7, 2013 NEW via mobile
    We booked Cardrona for 2 nights over New Years. We were quite disappointed with the hotel considering we paid $150 per night.
    The room contained a queen sized bed and a cupboard with a CRT tv and kitchen supplies.
    The bathroom was small but adequate, however missing a hair dryer. The tiled shower was low pressure, fluctuated in temperature, and lacked a door so flooded the bathroom.
    The room was missing some essential elements such as a table, iron and ironing board.
    The service was ok however it wasn’t clear where we should check in and out, staff offered us the wrong room and didn’t offer to change it. The spa also wasn’t working. Stayed January 2013
    end of review

    It is well worth remembering that the Cardrona staff come from Wanaka, and Wanaka is as redneck as Peter Quixote,
    so is Queenstown if it comes to that.

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  6. WineOh (1,053 comments) says:

    @Pete George, yes I believe Terra Sancta has retained the winemaker from Olssens as well so should retain the quality focus they have had in the past. If you haven’t already tried it, their Chardonnay kicks butt too. Too often the Otago wineries are known first & only for their Pinot, whereas they often do great aromatics and Chardy too.

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