There’s gold in them there hills, specifically golden Chardonnay and Riesling from Culmina Family Estate Winery, our 1st stop of the day. I haven’t chosen my favourite winery visit this year yet but Culmina is a contender. The wines are spectacular, the presentation excellent. Even the included booklet is above average with food pairing options that had us planning meals as we tasted the wines. Riesling with a curry takeaway and Chardonnay with scallops coming to a kitchen near me soon. A $10 tasting fee is waived with a purchase.
Hester Creek didn’t accept reservations and a quick stop sadly didn’t work out for us so on we went.
Second Chapter is a new winery from the folks that created Church and State and their considerable experience is obvious in creating a great tasting room experience.
Our second stop was perfectly timed for the Second Chapter’s opening at 11 and our little bubble had the deck to ourselves. I couldn’t resist the Cabernet Sauvignon and have tucked it away to give it some time grow. An $8 tasting fee is waived with a purchase.
We were starting to talk about food and next up was Tinhorn Creek with a tasting followed by lunch on the deck at Miradoro. We’ve been members at Tinhorn for years, they have good, well priced wines in environmentally friendly lightweight bottles with screw caps. The seated tasting on the deck was, like all things Tinhorn, well done. The on-site Miradoro restaurant is consistently good and we had an excellent meal.
I had a pizza with wild and cultivated mushrooms with white sauce, caramelized onions and alpindon cheese. I love pizza and mushroom should be my favourite but I’m often disappointed. This was the best I’ve ever had.
David had the salmon puttanesca and I had a hard time getting even a taste. I don’t get much from this kind of plating but perhaps it gives room to mix things up. Doesn’t matter cause this was fantastic.
When the special is a favourite dish, there can be a reluctance to try it but my carbonara loving friend called this the best meal of the trip.
We skipped dessert in favour of our reservation at Checkmate and I was keen. Home of the 100 Point Chardonnay, we have fond memories of an unforgettable visit to Antelope Ridge on our first wine tour 12 years ago. Madame Combret drove up out of the vineyard in a dusty beat up car to open up and let us try her wines. Recently renamed Antelope, they were winning awards. After a stern talking to about how to drink her Chardonnay and what to drink it with she found a case still under the Combret label. We felt lucky she let us buy her wine and drank it as instructed with scallops or prawns in cream sauce. Absolutely no hot sauce. Her vineyards are now part of Checkmate. I hope she’s proud.
The elegant tasting room feels unfinished but is beautiful and the table comfortable. Our host was interesting, informative and fun. Not for the faint of wallet the $35 tasting fee is worth it, even better get 2 for 1 if you have a visa infinite card.
Day 2 – 4 wineries and 1 restaurant and it keeps getting better.