Let's start looking ahead. To the festivals, the parties, the long hot summer when we can stretch our legs and explore this beautiful country once more. Down in Hawkes Bay, they're preparing for the summer F.A.W.C! Festival - tickets went on sale this week and already some events are sold out. One of those is Pranzo dell'Opera in Giardino (Opera Lunch in the Garden), at the Mission Estate. Pranzo dell'Opera is a celebration of the estate's Italian heritage, and will feature food and opera. A four-course meal will be served in the garden, with each course paired with an Italian opera performed by Festival Opera, a non-traditional opera company that offers opera productions on local stages.
The event - fabulous as it is - has naturally sold out already, but there's plenty more going on at the estate, and many reasons to get involved.
The Mission Estate is a living piece of history. Established by French missionaries (who sailed to New Zealand with the blessing of the Pope) in 1851, the estate is the oldest winery in Aotearoa. The wine first produced here was sacramental - these days, it is for our enjoyment, to dine in the recently done-up restaurant, wander the grounds, and rest lazily in the shade of the giant Phoenix palm on the back garden after they've eaten and drunk their fill.
Next on their calendar is New Year's Eve - the estate will be hosting a long dinner, after bubbles on arrival, canapes on the lawn, followed by cheese boards and live performances by the Napier Pipe Band and The Bostons. Dance the night away in The Chapel, and count down to the end of this rather challenging year.
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Tickets are available at missionestate.co.nz