Kelly Bertrand takes a trip to Hawke’s Bay, makes a new friend, drinks some wine and eats some food. What more could you ask for?
There are many things that will bond a group of women.
A trip to a bathroom on a night out where you’ll spend 10 minutes complimenting each other on our outfits – “No, YOU look incredible. NO! YOU look incredible!”.
The unwritten rule where you must provide a tampon to whoever’s asking for one – even if it’s your last one and they cost more than their weight in gold.
Or, a girls trip where the itinerary is only concerned with one thing – where is the next amazing wine, and the next incredible food?
After the cluster f that is 2021, a girls trip to sunny Hawkes Bay is just the ticket – enter the legendary Food and Wine Classic (FAWC), back for its 10th year this November.
This year’s line-up is proving to be its best yet as organisers say a collective stuff you to Covid-19 and are determined to celebrate the big 1-0 in style. Think a stunning long, lingering lunch in a secret location (ooh, the INTRIGUE), mind-blowing foodie events and wine that’ll have you wishing you were one of those people who can actually cellar a good bottle, rather than down it the second you get back to your hotel room.
And if last year’s programme is anything to go by, you’re in for a treat.
A slight rewind back to 2020, if you will (I know I know, but just go with me – this is a very. specific. weekend) where my and my new mate Brodie Kane got to experience all that was good about FAWC.
And here’s where my point about female bonding comes in. Brodie and I have shared the same group of mutual friends for years but had never met. So, combine two media types who both love a glass of cheeky vino, swear like sailors and are more than happy to go with the flow and mate, you’ve got yourself a weekend.
Over the course of three days we got to experience all that Hawke’s Bay has to offer during FAWC – here are the highlights.
You simply must… Head to Mission Estate. It’s an iconic winery for a reason – perched high on the hills overlooking the Bay, it was founded in 1851 by French missionaries, it’s New Zealand’s oldest winery and it’s only right you should pay homage. Last year we were treated to an amazing long lunch where the theme was ‘wrapped’ – think dumplings, ravioli, anything that can be ensconced in a carb – but in 2021, the stunning food will be paired with soaring opera, with each of the four courses paired with an aria or duet performed by Festival Opera. Did someone say classy?
Treat yourself at… One of our favourite places in the whole of Hawke’s Bay turned out to be a quiet, unassuming wine bar where you feel like you’re a whole lot chicer than you possibly are. (Well, speaking for myself anyway.) Smith and Sheth wine bar is tucked behind Havelock North’s Porter Boutique Hotel (where we also stayed – thanks for that, festival organisers!) and it’s well worth a stroll down to try some truly phenomenal local wines, selected and poured by passionate wine enthusiasts and experts (real experts, not you and the girls after an afternoon on Waiheke). But the true highlight is their wine tasting that’s on another level. Rather than a traditional cellar door, Smith and Sheth offer the Heretaunga Studio, an incredibly intimate experience that is a theatre, barrel cellar and lounge all in one. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour experience, and it’ll set you back a crisp $100, but trust us – it’s worth it.
My pick of itinerary for this year…
- Hawke’s Bay Wine Car Boot Party Rev your engines because the Car Boot Party is back for a second year, more “souped-up” than ever! More than 40 Hawke’s Bay wineries will roll into the Waikoko Gardens and park-up ready to pour an amazing selection of Hawke’s Bay’s finest wines.
- Lawn Road Petanque Society Gather for an afternoon of French-styled frivolity at one of Hawke’s Bay’s most intriguing homesteads. With artisan sausages, cured meats and gourmet parfaits and terrines from Auckland’s finest French butchers l’Authentique, award-wining wines from Smith & Sheth and local beer from Giant Brewery, this will be a French-styled afternoon soirée filled with champagne, charcuterie, locally-sourced produce and new season asparagus, unique wines and specially-brewed beer.
- New Zealand Cider Festival 2021 The NZ Cider Festival is the only dedicated Cider Festival in New Zealand. The festival aims to be an annual celebration of the diversity of Cider, including both Traditional and New World varieties from around the country. Festival attendees have the opportunity to sample a range of products from our Cider makers in a relaxed and friendly festival environment that incorporates local artisan food and great entertainment.
- Get Lucky at Peak House Exceptional views, amazing food and drinks. The atmosphere will be incredible here up on Te Mata Peak – a Mexican street party as it should be – a little bit spicy and packed with fresh and funky flavour. Lucky Taco will be dishing out the delicious street food, created from the freshest Hawke’s Bay produce and Hawke’s Bay own Hands Down tortillas. And with a beer and wine list featuring the very best local beverages, this will be one fiesta you won’t want to miss.
The writer travelled to FAWC 2020 courtesy of Hawke’s Bay Tourism, however all opinions are her own.
Tickets for FAWC 2021( November 5 -14th) are on sale now – click here.