All About Tarras: High Street Shopping, High Tea and Award Winning Wines
On a sweltering hot day, Tarras found on the Southern side of the Lindis Pass is a welcome sight. With its weatherboard buildings and well-tended gardens, this small settlement seems to whisper history. Long before the road was tarsealed it was home to gold miners, sheep farmers and those looking for a quieter life.Today, you can refuel your vehicle and purchase homeware and gifts from the Tarras General Store and then head to the Tarras Country Coffee Shop for your own sustenance. Natasha Wilson, the café’s resident chef explains that the scones are ever popular, especially when they are used as a base for eggs benedict. Sitting at one of the sprawling tables out front enjoying a coffee, you can’t help but feel that you have entered a new and greener District after the sprawling tussock plains in Mackenzie Country.
Next door, the Merino Shop is home to the usual range of warm and woolly merino clothing; however, out back there is an unexpected surprise for visitors. Christina Perriam has created a high end designer merino and angora range - ‘Perriam’. Set in a studio that rivals any “High Street” shopping experience in New Zealand, this well-tailored clothing line is both elegant and exquisitely soft to wear.
Behind the roadside buildings, the original Tarras School is a shrine of sorts, paying homage to the famous woolly hermit of Bendigo Station - “Shrek”. This wily merino wether (castrated male sheep) evaded musterers for six years. In 2004, after being shorn his fleece weighed 27kgs, six times the weight of an average fleece! You can buy a children’s picture book detailing Shrek’s exploits in The Merino Shop, or grab a copy of John Perriam’s book “Dust to Gold”, which details a more adult version of life on Bendigo station and the story behind its woolly icon Shrek.
A final story associated with Tarras that is definitely worth telling is that of Tarras Estate Vineyard. In 2002, Hayden Johnston bought 22 hectares high up on the Bendigo terraces from John Perriam. After planting over 9,000 organically grown vines on 4 hectares, ‘The Canyon’ was born. The first commercially viable vintage went to market in 2006 and since then Johnston’s wines have been winning awards worldwide. Described as “delivering outstanding expressions of a great Pinot Noir”, Tarras Vineyard wines are definitely worth sampling. Especially the Tarras Single Vineyard ‘The Canyon’ Pinot Noir 2009 which was judged not only best Pinot Noir in Show at the Decanter Asian Wine awards, it also won the International Pinot Noir Trophy. More recently, ‘The Canyon’ Pinot Noir 2014 won Pure Gold at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
Next time you are heading through the Lindis Pass, or decide to go exploring the Districts surrounding Cromwell, put a visit to Tarras on your ‘To Do’ list. Whether you are interested in scones and coffee, fine merino couture, or award winning wine there really is something for everyone. For more information go to www.cromwell.org.nz.