We are lucky to have Waiheke Island so accessible to Auckland. Fullers ferries operate a seamless door to door service from downtown Auckland to Matiatia Wharf on Waiheke, every half hour over the summer months.
The Sky Tower began to shrink as we sailed away from the city. I could feel myself relax as I anticipated our lunch at Tantalas Estate. A smattering of yachts were anchored as we sailed into Matiatia Bay and as we disembarked I could see a string ray in the shallow waters. Locals tell us they often come and bask in the shallow to avoid the orca.
Our dear friends where there to meet us. They whisked us up the hill to their home where we enjoyed a glass of bubbles over looking the ocean before we headed off to lunch.
Tantalus is one of Waiheke’s newest restaurants and wineries. It was founded in 2013 on 8.3 hectares of established vines in the Onetangi Valley. Run-down, the winery and brew house needed a lot of TLC and Campbell Aitken and Carrie Mendell from USA were just the people for the job. With invaluable support and mentoring from their families they have turned it into a world-class venue.
The vineyard was extensively replanted and winery itself totally redeveloped, with a restaurant opening out onto the vineyard with the most magnificent chandeliers made from the old grape vines. On the floor below is a sophisticated draft brewery.
But over-riding this magnificent vineyard is the food. We feasted on shared plates for truffle and parmesan chips, fermented potato bread with cultured butter and onions and duck liver parfait cherries and a sweet dough.
This was followed by my choice of pork belly with popcorn and an orange and green mango side. Then, long-line caught Blue Nose with New Zealand mussels, green tomatoes, cucumber and succulents. The wine choices matched the food beautifully and we left happy, contented and wanting to come back.