Home and Garden
Smiling faces beam from photographs displayed behind the bar at Wairau River Wines' cellar door.
Generations of the extended Rose family are represented, the framed images overlooking bottles of wine ready for tasting on the bench: sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, chardonnay, aromatics, a rose.
For visitors, the photographs often create as much a talking point as the wine.
Across the room, separated by a large shelving unit displaying bottles of wine, soft couches look inviting next to the warmth of the open fire. Walls of glass interspersed by thick rimu joinery make the most of the winter light, further accentuated by huge David Trubridge lights hanging from the high white ceiling, which is offset by the dark cement floor below.
The warm, well-balanced light is something cellar door and restaurant manager Pip Rose says many customers comment on when they visit Wairau River Wines' cellar door. It opened at Christmas last year, and is situated on the corner of Rapaura Rd and State Highway 6.
Attached to the restaurant - which opened in 1992 - the cellar door extension was so seamless, Pip says, that some loyal customers barely noticed they were standing in a new part of the building.
The restaurant was built of 80-kilogram mud blocks sourced from the river on which the company bases its name and huge sandblasted rimu beams sourced from Wairau Hospital's former children's ward.
"It was purpose built so as to use the wooden beams in their entirety, everything was based around that," Pip says.
Separated from the dining room by large wooden pivot doors on each side of an open fire that backs onto a fire in the restaurant, the cellar door was built of wood, glass and steel rather than mud blocks. Board and batten was used in the small areas without joinery.
"Our decision to use the materials we've used in here was really made for us. We considered continuing on with mud block, it's a natural product so you would not have been able to tell. We did want it to be a lighter, more modern-looking space and still look seamless at the same time."
Outside, a long rolled veranda helps keep the indoors cool in summer and plane trees shade beanbags on the lawn and picnic tables overlooking the vineyard. At the far end of the rows are olive trees that have supplied the oil in the restaurant for a year. There are plans to add a petanque court surrounded by hedges.
Pip says the extension was talked about for many years by the family and work by Clarke Construction finally started in the middle of 2011. When the doors opened on December 27 the punters rolled in and they have not stopped.
Diners often spend time in the cellar door tasting after placing their orders, or enjoy desert on the couches by the fire. Being separate from the dining room means staff have more time to spend with customers and cellar door wine sales have risen, Pip says.
"It's one of those things we say now say should have been done years ago."
Wairau River Wines restaurant and cellar door, corner of Rapaura Rd and State Highway 6, open 10am to 5pm daily.
- The Marlborough Express