From vine to table with Clare Giffard
A love of wine and food took Clare Giffard all around New Zealand, and internationally for years, until she made Canterbury her permanent home. Metropol writer Neville Idour looks back at her journey.
W ine, followed closely by food, has frequently been top of the list for Canterbury café owner Clare Giffard. Known for two popular cafés, Urban Revival in Silverstream, Kaiapoi, and the Flat White Café in Pegasus, Clare’s path has previously taken several fascinating twists and turns, especially in the wine world.
Along the way she indulged her passion for food, an enjoyment that started in her early teens during home economics classes at school. “My family were all very much food lovers, which influenced me too,” she recalls.
Also a sports enthusiast, Clare’s career path initially went down that line, then into teaching, before she finally decided to follow her love of wine and food into a new profession. “I’d been teaching at Breens Intermediate School [for nine years]. When I left, my passion for food took over and led me to the world of wine. I was asked by various wineries to match food and wine.”
By then, Clare was South Island sales manager for French company Pernod Ricard, working for 13 years in New Zealand, and sometimes internationally. She lived for a couple of years in Auckland, commuting to Christchurch until deciding she would rather sleep at home in Christchurch most nights.
“My love for matching food with wine led me to build my own house, develop a vegetable garden, and become involved with various wine events.” Various jobs followed, including helping to set up the Bunker Café and the Flat White Café in the retail area at Pegasus. “I worked there for two-and-a-half years, and then purchased Flat White at the end of that time. Thirteen years later I still have it, plus the Urban Revival Café which I set up six years ago.”
Backtracking to her house building days in 2000, Clare explains she wanted a long, tree-lined drive with a house at the end of it. “That was my wish so I bought some land
in Ohoka. “A friend helped me with the design, and I did work on it myself with painting. “My father also would come down from Auckland to help for a couple of weeks. Sandona Lodge was born, complete with its own 600 tree olive grove.”
Covid-19 put a halt to the operation of the lodge as it was, however Clare says she still does events and private functions. Food and wine still hold the same fascination for her. “It’s about the connection with people and the community,” she says. “The hospitality, the people we meet, and the connections are what I love.”