Off the beaten path

As we set off in Ruby down the hills I clutched the winery flyer tight in my hand. I wanted wine and pizza and I wanted it now.

We flew (Ruby is speedy) by the tiny sign announcing our next stop and thankfully turned around before happening on the next winery filled with snobs and relabeled, fake wine from another part of the NZ coast. (phonies).

We walked up to Purgani Winery and I almost laughed out loud. it was too perfect for words.

It is exactly the kind of place my friends and I would spend an entire day at back home. It was a complete hole in the wall.

Cobwebs were everywhere, rain boots and cats welcomed you at the front door and Phoenix was playing in the background.

Poker chips and cards scattered across a three legged poker table (fourth leg was three cinder blocks) and a surfing movie played on repeat.

The whole room reeked of what seemed to be an epic party the night before and I loved every inch of it.

Then out popped the Websters dictionary definition of jolly. Evan. A loud crack up voice and red circled cheeks that beckoned you inside. He was all hands on deck. Greeter, chef, bartender, tour guide, sommelier, and if you got to talking to him long enough he felt like a hitchhiker you picked up along the way.

He talked so fast I had to focus intently or miss his quick jokes and wise cracks. I felt bad for DB and Sarah trying to keep up but they were good sports. We drank, we ordered food and soon we were joined by Bern.

Bern was as leathery and worn as Evan was jolly. You could tell this guy had been places. I asked him his recommendation (as he was clearly a regular) and he grabbed a bottle of the port wine and fixed himself a pour. I would’ve guessed him as a port man. I pressed him with the usual touristy questions and pretty soon he was telling stories of his previous years as an Olympian! Field hockey!

He was a hoot that’s for sure. His belly was covered haphazardly by a burnt wool sweater. He must’ve seen me looking because he quickly blamed it on the flammability of fake merino and went on a rant of how his wife always bought cheap. We talked of Canada (yee merrricanos are right in the head if ya know what I mean. Those nadians don’t know much) and Colorado (my son bought a yeller pickup from a bloke in coleeerado. Drove it all the way to the port. Says a lot about yer people)

I found out a few other things from our afternoon ramblings as well.

-New zealanders and australians hate each other. A lot. And because of this feud they assume Canadians and Americans hate each other just as much.

-The national fruit of new Zealand is not the kiwi. Kiwis don’t eat kiwis, they cover them in chemicals and ship them off to other countries. Rather Feijoa is the beloved fruit of Kiwi land.

-The largest land bird (the Moa) once ran free in NZ, natives didn’t shoot these stupid birds (they really are stupid) they walked up to them and clocked them on the head with a smoothed down rock.

– TomAto, tomato they are not the same. Say tomAto and you are laughed at as a silly American.

– Pizza and wedges with aiolia is the best food combination in the world

…And it is best served under a canopy of kiwi trees

By the time I left my cheeks were rosier than Evans and my hand clutched tightly to a bottle of Feijoa liqueur. Only when you go off the beaten path do you wind up meeting Olympians and drinking the afternoon away with them in run down wineries.

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