The Farm on the hill
It’s not often one has to teeter on the edge of a disintegrating cliff just to taste a few mediocre wines. But that’s the inevitable amuse bouche at Chard Farm, and while the entrance is heart-stopping in its precariousness (and, it is to be admitted, beauty), the driveway and its vistas are by far the best thing about a visit.
The Kawarau River, in its gorge far below, fairly glows in opaque yet brilliant turquoise. And from the steep slopes of the vineyards surrounding the winery, it is indeed a beautiful sight. It’s not so beautiful, however, on the twisty little goat path protected from the cliff above by…well, nothing…and the river below by a precarious few inches of dirt. Beyond all reason, this was – at one thankfully long-passed time – the major eastern road to Queenstown. Somehow, I don’t think it would be quite the tourist center it is were that still the case. Either that, or a shocking number of visitors would fail to arrive.
The winery’s tasting room is, as last time, dark and a little gloomy, and not quite set up to handle more than four visitors at a time without elbow-bumping chaos…though it fairly steadily hosts more than that during our visit. Still, it’s got undeniable character, and the behind-the-counter staff knows their stuff. Too bad there’s not that much to say. Chard Farm produces a decent range of wines centered around a mix of site-specific and blended pinots, though the full range of the latter are never on general offer, and while the results are interesting from the perspective of terroir, as wines they’re just not that exciting.
(Continued here, with tasting notes included…)