Following a mornings tasting of the 2012 wines of the region, we headed to Akarua in Bannockburn for lunch. A marque nestled in the vines greeted us, as did a glass of Akarua’s excellent rose bubbly, delicate, just the right color pink, gentle yet rich. The menu was superb, starting with whitebait fritters matched with the Akarua Vintage brut. The main course was really well done, a set of platters of venison, merino lamb racks, boiled potatoes, plenty of vegetables and an excellent Israeli couscous salad. The reds, a Pinot and Syrah – not a typo here, the Syrah was from Lowburn Ferry, a spicy little number it went very well with the curried eggplant that accompanied the venison. For dessert, Malcom Rees Francis’s Tigermoth Riesling – brilliant wine on its own, it sang magically with the lemon dessert. A brilliant lunch and what a view. We then stopped (all 45 of us) at Matt Connell and Matt Dicey’s local, the Cromwell pub. The poor girl behind the bar was slightly over whelmed, a glass of Emerson’s Pilsner and then it was back to Queenstown for a rest before an evening at Jacks Point. The wines for the evening were varied as the wineries showed some of their whites, older reds, larger formats, in fact you name it and it was definitely there. Highlights for me; Peregrine Chardonnay, Mount Edward Pinot Blanc, Terra Sancta Rose, Quartz Reef Pinot 2004 from magnum and Chard Farm Viper Pinot 2002.