Hiking to Rippon Vineyard – Wanaka’s Best Winery

Prepare for the Winery of Your Dreams

I plan to write a full guide to road tripping through New Zealand for the South Island and North Island, but wanted to first put together a post on hiking to a gorgeous winery in Wanaka, because I haven’t yet found any blogs mentioning this to die for place, and it is absolutely spectacular!

Situated on a verdant hill overlooking glittering Lake Wanaka and the surrounding Southern Alps, Rippon Vineyard in Wanaka, New Zealand is an absolute take your breath away, showstopper of a winery.

We found the Gamay! Glorious views on all sides.

It takes a bit of an effort to reach this gem. We hiked about an hour on a gentle winding path along the lake, the last third of the hike uphill. When we arrived, there were only four other people at the hilltop winery. The tasting was free and delicious, offering wines from the Otago region. If you do not wish to buy a bottle (which you will, because the tart, creamy Gamay’s and Sauvignon Blancs are divine and at less then $20, a steal), the owners ask that you please make a small donation to the reintroduction of the Kiwi Bird to the area. What kind of cold-hearted bastard could say no to that?!

The iconic Wanaka tree


Breathtakingly beautiful views from Rippon Winery

After basking in the splendor of the sweeping views over the lake, Ruby Island, and the dusky mountains, we took our bottle and sat on the banks of Lake Wanaka, sipping our refreshing and fruity Gamay as the day turned to twilight. I felt blissful and free and eternally grateful to find myself in this gorgeous part of the world.

Cotton candy clouds on the banks of Lake Wanaka
Fuchsia sunset

Coming soon – A Guide to Road Tripping Through New Zealand.

A Budget Guide to Trader Joe’s Best Sparkling Wine 

I’m Sampling the Budget Bubbly At Trader Joe’s – And Listing the Tastiest Options!

Let’s do this ladies….you ready beyonce GIF

As an almost-vegetarian returning from living in southern Germany for a year, I was so excited to shop at Trader Joes! I have been dreaming about those pre-made lunch salads for ages. And the Tikka Masala Veggie Burgers. And the pre-peeled/cut veggies, because you guys, that is not a thing in Germany.  Feel like pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving – peel it, scoop out the insides and cook down that pumpkin. Cook down a pumpkin – for f**k’s sake. Ain’t no one got time for that! One thing I did love about the German supermarkets (besides the vast array of delectable Milka, which could be a blog post all on it’s own) was the delicious, seriously cheap wine from the surrounding vineyards in Baden Württemberg. Delicious dry whites for under 5 bucks?  GIMMIE.  Kessler bubbles from the 700 year old cellar in the town center for 10 bucks – YASSSS.

In an effort to find some fabulous wines equal to my favorite affordable German faves, I have begun sampling the TJ’s sparkling wine, beginning at the $4 bottles and working my way up. I will continue to pick up different options each trip until I have found the very best budget friendly choices. Here are my first samples:

Schloss Biebrich Sekt ($4.99): Now, this sparkling wine is a bit of a twofer, as it was also sold in our local grocery store in Esslingen. Sekt is the German word for sparkling wine, just as Cava is Spanish sparkling wine, etc. This wine is decent for the price. It’s slightly sweet for me, would be alright in a mimosa. I think we can do better.

Schloss Biebrich sparkling wine dry - 0,75L 11% vol

LaGranja Cava Brut ($6.99): I love a good Cava. Reminds me of sipping drinks at rooftop bars on sultry evenings in Seville (yes, this is a shameless plug for my upcoming Andalucia blog. What of it? :D)

Salud Seville Bubbly At a Rooftop Bar
Bubbles at a rooftop bar in Seville. Brad snuck in his cerveza.

Also, the bottle is gorgeous, a goose covered in bright blue molting feathers, partly why I chose this. It is dry, fruity and refreshing, great for evening sipping. Would buy again.

Contadino Pinot Grigio ($4.99): This vino from Venice isn’t exactly sparkling wine, but it is slightly effervescent, super budget friendly and a good sipping wine. It is a staple in our household. Dry and light on the palette.

arrested development juice GIF
Me as a slightly more sophisticated version of Buster…….I love BUBBLES!

Stay tuned for the next round of picks!








A Budget Guide to Costco’s Best Sparkling Wines

I’m Sampling the Budget Bubbly At Costco – And Listing the Tastiest Options!

After 18 months living in Germany, where everything is sold in relatively small packaging (no gallon milks to be more specific) I was quite excited to visit Costco – forty Baby Bell cheeses? I NEED THOSE!!

I was especially looking forward to browsing the bubbly and wine options. Costco has some great private label choices, particularly from France and Italy. I really enjoyed the Cremont’s in Paris and Strasbourg and have been on the look-out since. On our latest Costco trip, I picked up 4 different sparkling wines all under 12 bucks and plan to compare them for you. I will continue to pick up different options each trip until I have found the very best budget friendly choices.

im ready to party kristen wiig GIF

Zardetto Prosecco Brut ($10.99): This was a winner. Crisp, refreshing, bright, great bubbles. Would be tasty in mimosas. Would buy again.

Image result for Zardetto Prosecco Brut Costco

Prince Alexandre Cremant De Loire Brut ($11.99): Another winner. You really can’t go wrong with a Cremant, in my opinion. Crisp, fruity, and smooth.

Image result for Prince Alexandre Cremant De Loire Brut costco

Bellenda Rose Brut Vino Spumante de Venetzia ($11.99): Bright, notes of strawberry, nice bubbles. Slightly on the sweet side, but did not stop us (my hubby and I), from polishing off a bottle while watching A Simple Favor. Note, if you have not seen this movie, Blake Lively really knows how to sell a martini. Also, she’s a total Smokeshow. Would buy again.

Stay tuned for my next round of budget samples!