Royals dine at Wither Hills

IAN ALLEN
Last updated 07:02 11/04/2014
royals wither hills
IAN ALLEN/Fairfax NZ

MARLBOROUGH'S FINEST: Prince William and Kate heading back to royal duties after enoying lunch at the Wither Hills winery.

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The royal couple took time out of their busy schedule yesterday afternoon for a private lunch at a Marlborough winery.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stopped off at Wither Hills near Blenheim after a wreath-laying ceremony at Seymour Square.

They were served tasting platters featuring fresh Marlborough produce, including salmon, during their 40-minute lunch stop.

William and Catherine arrived with little fanfare compared with other appointments on the royal tour, as the chosen winery was kept closely under wraps for as long as possible.

Still, they did not disappoint as they stopped and waved to the small contingent of onlookers before disappearing inside.

Word of the venue obviously spread, and carloads of fans started to line the road opposite the winery as they dined.

The crowd of pensioners, parents, children and vineyard workers waited patiently in the drizzle as heritage aircraft from the nearby Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, the couple's next destination, flew overhead.

When the duke and duchess reappeared, they wasted little time getting back into their car and on with the official tour.

Wither Hills business manager Guy Hernandez said it was a great honour for winery staff to host the royal couple's private lunch.

There was a buzz about the winery and staff were tremendously excited, Hernandez said.

However, he would not reveal much about the lunch.

"It is important that we respect their privacy. We were happy to showcase the best of Marlborough food prepared by [chef] Dave Anderson and the wonderful crew that we have here."

Staff were going to have some lunch and "take a breather" before opening up to the public again, Hernandez said.

"It was a pretty amazing experience, and now we're open."

Blenheim woman Ruth Struthers said the Wither Hills winery provided the perfect location for some royal gazing.

"Just to have someone coming down the stairs towards you . . . you can't beat that for a woman to look at another woman," she said.

Her friend Liz Walker, who lives nearby, said seeing the royal couple was worth the wait.

The duchess gave the group a beautiful smile, she said.

"It was very special."

Jenny Tyney was just as impressed with William, though.

"Will gave a personal smile to us."

Neryl Savage said she was driving past and noticed the commotion so decided to stop.

Outside the winery turned out to be the best spot, she said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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