I have wimped out of the Forrest Grape Ride in Marlborough ... again. You have to do some serious training to complete the 101km course and my bottom feels sore just thinking about it.
Next year, maybe, just maybe, I will take to my bike, sporting a pair of super-padded shorts and heading out past Framingham and Cellier Le Brun wineries, whizzing past Johanneshof's steep vineyard slopes to Picton, around the head of the Queen Charlotte and Pelorus Sounds, before heading back past Nautilus Estate and Wairau River to finish at Forrest. It's then time to drink wine and rest sore bottoms, although event virgins get to stomp grapes to make the annual Grape Ride pinot noir.
Although the 2000-strong event is usually sold out long in advance, recent events in Christchurch mean there are a few places left for April 2.
This year, a 42km flat course has been introduced for those who are new to cycling. You could also become a world champion at a new event. Explains Pete Halligan, event co-ordinator: "This year we are going to hold the world grape-spitting competition.
It's never been done before. Who knows, it could be a whole new iconic event for Marlborough!"
Go to graperide.co.nz for details.
What to drink en route:
2010 The Doctors' Riesling ($22, La Barrique, Fine Wine Delivery Co, Hamilton Wine Company, Glengarry)
Clean, simple and refreshing - just what you need after cycling 101km. What's more, it's only 8.5 per cent alcohol, so perhaps you can have a glass before setting off.
2009 Johanneshof Pinot Gris ($27, Cellar Select, First Glass)
An exotic and interesting little gris, reminiscent of glazed pineapple slices and rose petals. It's incredibly food-friendly with a little bit of savoury funk on the finish. A worthwhile stop mid-route!
2009 Framingham Select Riesling ($39.90, Wine Circle, Dhall & Nash)
Northeast England ain't renowned for its winemakers, but Andrew Hedley of Framingham isn't your average guy. His rieslings rival the best in the country, and this one is fresh and juicy, with a dry, taut finish.
* Find the wine aisle confusing?
Rebecca Gibb's Introduction to Wine course demystifies the world of wine in a relaxed setting. Swirl, sniff and slurp your way through the major grape varieties and wine regions of the world at The Wine Vault, Grey Lynn, on Saturday, April 9, from 11am-3.30pm. Rebecca is offering Detours readers a huge 40 per cent discount on the course: pay just $99 and included are eight wines, a two-course lunch and booklet to take home. See the special offer page at rebeccagibb.com/workshops/350
We have one place on the wine course to give away. To enter, email your name and contact details to detours@heraldonsunday by 5pm Thursday March 31. Entrants must be 18 or over.